In 2017, the Met Gala will be focusing on a living designer for the first time since celebrating Yves Saint Laurent in 1983. Said designer is the legendary Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons.

The Met Gala will be showcasing the full Commes des Garçons archive, within which houses 120 of Kawakubo’s designs for the womenswear line since 1981. The exhibition explores Kawakubo’s fascination with liminality by structuring the pieces in contrasting displays. The exhibition will be open to the public come 4 May at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Choosing to elevate Kawakubo’s and her success this year spells an interesting shift from previous Met Galas. For the past few years, the iconic Gala has cast a focus on categorical themes, each year becoming a catalyst for sartorial statements that have left indelible marks on popular culture.

We look at some of the most iconic Met Gala looks of the past five years in anticipation of the Kawakubo instalment.

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Credit: emirates247

2016: Claire Danes in Zac Posen

The Manus x Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology theme this year saw a slew of silver and black looks that were stereotypically futuristic, but Danes’ Zac Posen gown was a glow-in-the-dark wonder of organza and fibre optics.

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Credit: Inside Out Style

2015: Rihanna in Guo Pei

When Rihanna sauntered down the red carpet in this luxe yolk-yellow and gold cape, the world froze. Chinese courtier and designer Guo Pei was instantly catapulted onto the global map for her otherworldly couture. Whether you know of this as the “omelette dress” or a stunning fashion statement, this dress became the signifier for 2015’s China: Through the Looking Glass theme.

Credit: Glamour
Credit: Glamour

2014: Karolina Kurkova in Marchesa

In homage to the Charles James: Beyond Fashion theme, as well as the master courtier’s highly structured aesthetic, Kurkova’s angular Marchesa gown with hand-painted flowers was a statement of remarkable construction.

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Credit: Times Style Life

2013: Rooney Mara in Ricardo Tisci for Givenchy

Mara dons a soft take on the Punk: Chaos to Couture with Tisci’s lacey concussion instead of going full-on studs and leather, as most were wont to do.

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2012: Beyoncé in Givenchy

Intricate beadwork and a stunning purple and black ombré feather train made Beyoncé a head-turner on the 2012 red carpet. The theme, Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations, explored the affinities between two prominent Italian designers — Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada. Beyoncé’s feminine dress proved quite a fitting couture presentation.

Beatrice Bowers
Features Editor
Beatrice Bowers writes about beauty, drinks, and other nice things. When not bound to her keyboard, she moonlights as a Niffler for novels and can be found en route to bankruptcy at your nearest bookstore. Don't tell her boss.