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Black celebrities at the met gala

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An invitation to the Met Gala doesn’t just arrive in your inbox, it is very intentional. The yearly prestigious event, helmed by Anna Wintour, is the biggest fashion event of the year, and for good reason. Established as a fundraiser to raise money for the Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, it is often regarded as the Super Bowl of fashion. Thanks to the Internet and social media, the Met Gala has become a spectator sport that encourages everyone, despite socioeconomic status and Hollywood adjacency, to channel their inner Miranda Priestly.

Black celebrities don’t get enough credit for influencing modern pop culture’s interest in the Met Gala.

The Met Gala has undergone many transformations over the years, its guest list being one of them. The Met Gala invite list has evolved from Eleanor Lambert’s Rolodex of industry insiders to today’s version of the really pricey dinner (a seat at the table reportedly costs around $75,000), which includes Hollywood’s biggest names. Black celebrities have particularly left an immeasurable mark on the treasured fashion event.

Black Celebrities at the Met Gala

An Evening At The Met In New York

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The late icon André Leon Talley, who was known for championing other Black creatives behind the scenes, was a beloved fixture at the Met Gala as Vogue‘s red carpet correspondent. Through his memorable interactions with everyone from Rihanna to Kimye as we knew it, witty commentary, celebrity relationships, industry cred, and unrivaled fashion knowledge – he represented the Black fashion voice in a space often exclusionary to us. His presence was one of the best parts of the event. He remained a Met Gala red carpet host until 2018.

Diana Ross earned her rightful place in Met Gala history in 1981 with her feathered off-the-shoulder dress that ranks high on the list of the most iconic Met Gala dresses of all time. Ross, who attended with her date Patrice Calmette, was the melanin at the grand affair back when it lacked the diversity it has implemented over time.

Beyoncé – Elevator Gate

"Charles James: Beyond Fashion" Costume Institute Gala - Arrivals

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Beyoncé first attended the Met Gala in 2008 when she graced the prestigious carpet in a plush pink Armani Privé gown – her interpretation of the “Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy” theme. In 2011, she sashayed the carpet wearing a waist-cinching Emilio Pucci gown that placed her on the fashion radar. She followed those appearances in 2012, 2013, and 2014 when she wore three head-turning Givenchy Haute Couture looks. But after the Met Gala, in 2014, Beyonce, Jay Z, and Solange garnered attention like never before. The two events are forever tied together.

Following a 2014 Met Gala after-party, surveillance footage of Solange attacking Jay Z in an elevator made its way to TMZ drawing heightened public interest to the Carter drama and the fashion event that led up to it.

“Elevator Gate” drew Black culture to the event in the most unconventional way and a decade later, everyone is still talking about it.

Rihanna – Queen Of The Met Gala

USA - 2015 Costume Institute Benefit Gala - ��China: Through The Looking Glass�� - Red Carpet Arrivals In New York

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Rihanna’s showstopping Gui Pei cape dress at the 2015 Met Gala earned the billionaire mogul the title of “Queen of the Met Gala.” Rihanna’s imperial yellow dress with an elongated train detailed with fur trim, took two years to make. And it was worth every stitch because it is a shining pillar in the foundation of Rihanna’s fashion icon status.

“I’m so in love with this dress, but the train is insane!” Rihanna told on the red carpet. “I can’t really walk in it without any help—but it’s so worth it. I love this dress so much! It’s Chinese couture and it’s made by Guo Pei. It’s handmade by one Chinese woman and it took her two years to make. I found it online.”

That year’s theme, “China: Through The Looking Glass” also inspired a spike in the sheer dress trend thanks to Beyoncé, who attended the spectacle in an embellished sheer Givenchy gown.

"China: Through The Looking Glass" Costume Institute Benefit Gala

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Bey’s Genie ponytail became a popular hairstyle. Her longtime hair stylist, Neal Farinah, revealed he flawlessly executed her high ponytail in five minutes on the way to the venue.

“Beyoncé takes us all out of our comfort zone, and she pushes us to be the most artistic we can be with her,” Farinah told Us Weekly.

Billy Porter – Notes On Camp

Costume Institute Benefit celebrating the opening of Camp: Notes on Fashion, Arrivals, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA - 06 May 2019

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When Black celebrities make their way onto the Met Gala red carpet, they won’t be denied when it comes to creativity and embodying the theme. In 2019, the “Celebrating Camp: Notes On Fashion” theme allowed Black celebrities to shine and they did.

Billy Porter, at the height of his Pose fame, earned his 10s when he made a head-turning entrance as he was carried in on top of shirtless soldiers for his iconic “Sun God” look by The Blonds. Porter’s 10-foot wings, 24-karat gold headpiece, and custom gold-leaf Giuseppe Zanotti shoes are Met Gala history. Vogue dubbed it the “most fabulous Met Gala entrance of all time.”

A connoisseur of camp through his career and notable work on Pose, Porter knew this was the theme for him. “What I love about having it at the Met Gala, and contextualizing camp, is it brings honor to a word and genre that can be discounted very often, or thought of as cheesy. When it’s done properly, it’s one of the highest forms of fashion and art,” he told Vogue.

That year, the red carpet was rich with Black folk making statements through their fashion. Lena Waithe, who was paired with Kerby Jean-Raymond, wore a tuxedo with a bold message in its stitches.

The 2019 Met Gala Celebrating Camp: Notes On Fashion

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The buttons on Waithe’s blazer were actually gold fixtures of LGBTQ+ pioneers. Under a magnifying glass, her pinstripes were lyrics from Diana Ross’ I’m Coming Out, Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive, and other liberating anthems. And if you didn’t get the message, her jacket had the quote, “Black Drag Queens Inventend Camp” emblazoned on the back.

Zendaya made her first appearance at the Met Gala in 2015, drawing our eyes to her and the carpet as she dazzled in a high-low dress by Fausto Puglisi. She has become a Met Gala darling ever since. She established herself as an upcoming Met Gala queen with her Cinderella “Notes On Camp” costume, brought to life by her style Godfather Law Roach.

The Cardi B Show

The 2019 Met Gala Celebrating Camp: Notes On Fashion - Arrivals

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Who needs a red carpet when your gown has a train like Cardi B’s 2019 Met Gala look? She established herself as a fashion force at the 2019 Met Gala, wearing Thom Browne. Made of over 3 million feathers with an enormous train, the look solidified Cardi’s stance in the fashion books.

According to Vogue, the one-of-a-kind gone was “made from tulle and silk organza and filled with down, the hand-embroidered dress is also decorated with 30,000 burned and dyed coque feathers. It took 35 people more than 2,000 hours to create, and it’s finished off with a bugle-bead headpiece that Browne made in collaboration with Stephen Jones.”

Cardi’s look so impressed Anna Wintour, the Vogue EIC praised the look on her Vogue‘s Go Ask Anna podcast recalling how people “parted like the queen coming through.” Cardi’s dramatic dress and entrance left Wintour in awe.

“I was completely in awe of the stunning dress that Cardi B wore to the Met this year. She looked unbelievable,” she recalled. “I had not seen her look as chic or as original beforehand, so I have completely rethought my opinion of Cardi B’s style.”

A Seat At The Table

The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion - Arrivals

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Fine and philanthropic, F1 driver Lewis Hamilton is a usual at the Met Gala as a fashion frontrunner. The stylish racer purchased a table at the Met Gala in 2021, paying it forward to emerging Black designers who otherwise might not get the opportunity. At his table were designers Kenneth Nicholson, Edvin Thompson, celebrity stylist Jason Rembert, his own stylist, Law Roach, Kehlani, Miles Chamley-Watson, Alton Mason, and Sha’Carri Richardson.

“It’s been an honor to be able to put this table together to celebrate and support Black creatives,” Hamilton told WWD via email. “I’ve always loved going to the Met Gala but this year was very special and had more meaning to me than any other year. It’s so important for me to be able to offer more opportunities for underrepresented people and I hope this will help spark conversation for more inclusion in the fashion industry.”

Met Gala 2024: Reawakening Fashion: A Garden In Time

The first Monday in May is rapidly approaching. We are days away from the 2024 Met Gala and what Rihanna is going to wear is on everyone’s mind. In a recent interview, the Bajan beauty revealed her 2024 Met Gala dress to be “simple.”

“I’m actually keeping it real simple this year,” she told to Extra. What Rihanna considers extra is the real question.

Whether they are walking the carpet, or hosting it, Black celebrities continue to leave their mark on the Met Gala. With this year’s opportunity to play in the garden, we’re interested to see how Rihanna and our favorite other Black celebrities like Janelle Monae, Teyana Taylor, KeKe Palmer, and Ciara interpret this year’s “Garden Of Time” element.


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How These Black Celebrities Left A Major Mark On The Met Gala  was originally published on