All the best archival looks from this year’s Met Gala

This year's dress code saw celebrities descend on the carpet in archival (and archival-inspired) looks. HUNGER recounts the best of the best. 

The exhibition at the core of this year’s Met Gala was Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion, and that came with a typically vague dress code called “The Garden of Time”. Taking inspiration from the 1962 James Gallard novel of the same name – in which a count picks roses from his garden to slow down time – the dress code invited sartorial takes on playing with temporality: blending the old with the new, and, like the exhibition suggests, reawakening the past… So, archive right? 

Not exactly. While this year’s theme might seem ripe for celebs enlisting the help of fashion’s finest to delve deep into the archives, the exhibition placed an emphasis on the use of technology to breathe new life into pieces now too old and fragile to wear. If Kim K squeezing herself into Marilyn Monroe’s iconic Bob Mackie dress back in 2022 was at one end of the spectrum, this year’s theme is right down at the other, a move towards preserving the sanctity of legendary garments. While a few celebs did wear garments that haven’t seen the light of day in a while, what we saw more of was looks inspired by vintage pieces. Here, HUNGER gives you a rundown of all of the best archival (and archival-inspired) looks. 

Kendall Jenner in 1999 Givenchy and 1997 Givenchy

It would feel wrong not to start with the look worn by Kardashian-ite Kendall Jenner. Taking it one step further than her famous sister, Jenner opted for a dress born out of Alexander McQueen’s reign at Givenchy that had never been worn before last night. That’s because when the dress first debuted, it wasn’t walked down the runway, but presented on a mannequin instead. “It’s been sleeping for the last 25 years. It’s literally a ‘sleeping beauty’,” Jenner told Vogue. What also makes Jenner’s chosen dress so iconic is its characteristically McQueen silhouette — who could ignore that daring “bum crack” cutout that’s taking cues from the late designer’s “Highland Rape” collection. Though Jenner covered up a little more for her after party look, it’s arguable that she did take it up a notch in terms of her archive fashion credentials. For the late night Met Gala celebrations, Jenner slipped into a winged dress from Givenchy’s spring/summer 1997 collection, again designed by Alexander McQueen. 

Zendaya in 1996 Givenchy

Zendaya’s second Met Gala look came in the form of a never-worn-before gown from Givenchy’s spring/summer 1996 collection, one of the two that John Galliano designed for the house. Purchased at Lily et Cie – an industry favourite purveyor of museum quality vintage pieces – the theatrical look marked yet another instance of Zendaya collabing with stylist Law Roach to create a truly unforgettable red carpet moment. It was in late February, of course, that the actress stepped out at the Dune: Part Two premiere in a robot suit from Thierry Mugler’s fall 1995 collection.

Zendaya in Maison Margiela Artisanal 

Though it’s not archive per se, it would be rude not to mention Zendaya’s first look from last night’s Met Gala. A custom piece by John Galliano for Maison Margiela Artisanal, the gown took inspiration from one of his designs for Christian Dior’s spring 1999 haute couture collection. The actress, ever on the fashion pulse thanks to her ongoing collaboration with stylist Law Roach, made a clever choice by opting for Maison Margiela Artisanal – though the designer behind the house has had his fair share of controversies, his recent collections have proved to have viral potential. It was back in late January that his collection for Maison Margiela Artisanal not only made the rounds online, but had everyone and their mum trying to recreate the shiny, doll-like makeup (courtesy of none other than Pat McGrath) that went with it. In summary? Zendaya’s first Met Gala look is peacock-y, nature-y, and thus bang on theme. 

Lana Del Rey in Alexander McQueen

Again, though Lana Del Rey’s ethereal look isn’t the result of actually pulling something from the archives, it is designer Sean McGirr’s take on an Alexander McQueen’s “Widows of Culloden” dress from their autumn/winter 2006 collection. Though the original look saw a model descend the runway in ruffled white lace and full-on antlers, Sean McGirr’s version saw the songstress in a gown covered in hammered bronze-bullion branches and a dramatic tulle veil. In our opinion, the best thing about Del Rey’s dress is that it repeatedly hit Kim K in the face when the singer and reality star did a joint interview on the Met Gala carpet. While we won’t harp on about Kim K’s controversial decision to wear the Bob Mackie gown a third time, we’d say getting thwacked by a designer tree branch is karma of sorts — you reap what you sow… or sew

Emily Ratajkowski in 2001 Versace and 1998 Givenchy

Model, actress and author Emily Ratajkowski gave us not one but two “actual” archive looks. First off, she descended the Met Gala carpet in an entirely hand-beaded number from Atelier Versace’s 2001 collection. And for the after party? To put simply, Ratajkowski saved the best till last, opting for another hand-beaded number, this time designed by none other than Alexander McQueen during his reign at Givenchy. Though the flapper-esque silhouette has been sitting in the archives for over twenty years, rather miraculously there were no alterations needed in order for Ratajkowski to wear it. “The dresses chose us. When you know, you know,” said Jorden Bickham, Ratajkowski’s stylist.

Iris Law in 2002 Versace

Also showing up in vintage Versace was model Iris Law, who graced the Met Gala carpet a second time in a sheer and sequin gown from Atelier Versace autumn/winter 2002. Leading the brigade on matching your hair and makeup to your look – a skill which celebs often forget – Law switched out her bleached locks for a brunette pixie cut that was carefully dishevelled into a sprite-esque wet look, and smudge-y eyeshadow that looked straight out of a watercolour painting. If Law’s 2024 Met Gala look is anything to go by, this era of Versace is one we won’t be able to put to bed — it was in February of last year that Zendaya showed up at the NAACP Image Awards in a striking black and green number from the fashion house’s spring/summer 2002 collection.

Nicole Kidman in Balenciaga 

If there was an award for going the furthest back into the fashion archives, it would go to actress Nicole Kidman, who turned up to the 2024 Met Gala in a Balenciaga gown inspired by one of theirs from way back in 1951. It was modelling icon Dorian Leigh that first wore the dress in an iconic shoot for Harper’s Bazaar — taking inspiration from the skirts worn by flamenco dancers in Cristobal Balenciaga’s home country of Spain, Demna’s recreation of the dress featured all the striking details that made it an old Hollywood winner over seventy years ago. Paired with long white gloves and some suitably scaled-back hair (you can see what we’re getting at now), the gown consisted of a white satin bustier that went into a hand-frayed, black organza skirt.

Chloë Sevigny in Dilara Fındıkoğlu

Though it’s not technically archive (or even archive-inspired), Dilara Fındıkoğlu’s gown for cult figure Chloë Sevigny deserves a place on this list. Fındıkoğlu’s viral-ready looks have found their way onto everyone from Margot Robbie to Doja Cat; she’s also the mind behind that star-studded, diligently-on-theme Halloween party last October. Surprisingly, however, her look for Sevigny marks her first foray into fashion’s most important night (bar her after party outfit for Bella Hadid in 2022). Not surprisingly? She did it in typical Fındıkoğlu style: her take on the theme involved constructing Sevigny a Victoriana gown that repurposed actual Victorian fabrics. Connor Ives incorporated a similar idea into his custom look for Ivy Getty, who last night wore a structured dress made out of two 18th-century tapestries.

WriterAmber Rawlings
Banner Image Credit@kendalljenner / Instagram