All the Best Vintage References at the Met Gala 2024

Zendaya at the 2024 Met Gala: "Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion" held at The Metropolitan Muse...
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While showing up to an event in a vintage gown used to be a major moment, these days archival pulls are quickly becoming standard practice. It’s not that they aren’t special—they absolutely are, but the influx of vintage shops on social media, and the current obsession over pre-worn pieces has made vintage pretty ubiquitous on the red carpet, especially the Met Gala. These days, pre-worn dresses are just as expected on those famed steps as Anna Wintour, and this year was no different. To be fair, the theme of “Sleeping Beauties” did beg for an archival pull, and many celebrities and stylists delivered. And even those who had dresses made for the event were inspired by fashion of yore, some you may not have even realized. So, we’ve rounded up all the best vintage and vintage-inspired pieces that walked the 2024 Met Gala because it’s always the right time for a little fashion history lesson.

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The focus was absolutely on co-host Zendaya at the Met Gala as everyone waited to see what the actress and her “image architect” Law Roach had planned for fashion’s biggest night. Unsurprisingly, the pair did not disappoint. Her role in the event meant Zendaya headed up those carpeted steps fairly early in the evening, kicking things off in a custom gown created by John Galliano for Maison Margiela. The haute couture look was made from a sage lamé and organza, bias cut over a duchess satin corset. A rich purple-blue hue created stripes with the sage on the skirt before gathering at the waist and shoulder where it was decorated with clusters of grapes, turning Zendaya into the goddess of wine. She finished off the look with deep, dramatic makeup and a topper designed by Stephen Jones for Margiela.

All of this would have been enough to get our attention, but beyond the hand-painted metallic crin and iridescent organza lay some fashion history. The dress was actually inspired by a Christian Dior spring/summer 1999 dress designed by Galliano, of course. Now we’ll raise a glass to that.

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When it came time for Zendaya to close out the red carpet in her second look of the evening, though, she decided to deliver some true vintage. And if you thought look one was dramatic, just wait until you see the Givenchy spring/summer 1996 couture dress she changed into. Like her first gown, this one was also designed by Galliano, in fact it was part of his first collection for the brand (though he only made two before departing for Dior). Zendaya and Roach sourced this dress (which just so happens to be from the year the actress was born) from Lily et Cie. They then topped it with a Philip Treacy for Alexander McQueen headpiece from the designer’s spring/summer 2007 collection, because one archival pull is never enough.

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Of course, Zendaya wasn’t the only one to bring vintage to the red carpet. Kendall Jenner also impressed the fashion sect when she arrived to the Museum in an Alexander McQueen-designed dress from Givenchy fall 1999 couture. Jenner was actually the first person to ever wear the piece, as it was originally presented on a mannequin instead of a model. Following the show, all the dresses from that collection were placed into the Givenchy archive, where they remained until one emerged last night. Jenner was unable to tailor the piece, with its sculpted neckline and shoulders and beaded embroidery, but luckily, it fit perfectly and needed no alterations.

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Queen of the naked dress Emily Ratajkowski found a way to wear her favorite type of garment to the Met Gala while remaining on theme. The model nabbed a sheer, hand-beaded Atelier Versace autumn/winter 2001 number from Tab Vintage. Crystals hung off the dress like icicles, giving it a fragile and ephemeral look. “I just wanted to feel like I was wearing something that could be in the exhibit,” Ratajkowski told the New York Times.

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Vintage Versace was actually pretty well-represented on the 2024 Met Gala red carpet. Iris Law, who loves nothing more than wearing garments that are almost as old as she also opted to source an archival piece for the big night. Specifically, Law got her hands on an Atelier Versace fall/winter 2002 that made the model look like she was wrapped in sparkling butterfly wings.

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Per usual, everyone had something to say about Kim Kardashian’s Met Gala dress—namely about the size of her waist and the gray cardigan sweater she clenched as she walked up the steps. Because of that, however, most were not focused on the artistry of the look. The reality star wore a piece by—you guessed it—John Galliano for Maison Margiela. The sweater came from Galliano’s recent spring 2024 couture collection for Margiela, but the rest of the dress, with its silver cutout lace, seemingly referenced a design from his Dior spring 1997 couture collection.

While it seems John Galliano was the designer of the evening (followed by a tie between Alexander McQueen and Jonathan Anderson, perhaps), Isabelle Huppert opted to go in a different direction, and instead honored her own ancestry with her look. Huppert is the great-great-granddaughter of Marthe Bertrand, who founded the fashion house Callot Sœurs with her three sisters, Marie, Régina, and Joséphine in 1895. A historic house, Callot Sœurs was specifically placed into the spotlight for the “Sleeping Beauties” exhibition, as the show closes with a wedding dress from the brand, designed for socialite Natalie Potter in 1931. Huppert asked Demna to recreate this dress for Balenciaga, to honor her heritage. “I think that of all the participants, I'm probably the one with the most obvious and, above all, the most personal connection,” she said, according to Vogue. “Since I'll be wearing a dress revisited by Demna, obviously for Balenciaga, but a dress that was created by my great-grandmothers.”

Actually a top and skirt, the piece featured a four-meter-long train that completely covered the stairs when the actress reached the top, making for one of the most dramatic moments of the night.

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In addition to Huppert, Demna also dressed many other stars on the Met Gala red carpet, including Nicole Kidman, who arrived to the event in a gorgeous and slightly unexpected structured silk satin white gown, with an underskirt of layered organza that gave off the effect of feathers. The dress was inspired by one created by Cristobal Balenciaga himself for the house’s spring 1951 collection, and made famous by supermodel Dorian Leigh in a Harper’s Bazaar image by Richard Avedon. Demna’s dress took 800 hours of hand embroidery and the application of 150 meters of silk organza to create. “The gown creates a natural full circle moment of time—it’s a celebration of Richard’s work that will live on, but also, an acknowledgment of Balenciaga’s artistic vision that continues to seamlessly blend the illusion of past, present, and future,” Kidman told Vogue.

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While there were memes about Lana Del Rey’s Alexander McQueen dress, designed by the brand’s recently-appointed creative director Seán McGirr, looking like a tree, it quickly became obvious, however, that the pair were referencing a very important collection by Lee—“Savage Beauty” from fall/winter 2006—which once inspired a whole Costume Institute exhibition on its own.

Of course, this was a modern interpretation of McQueen’s original design, featuring silk, double georgette, and tulle. The hand-embroidered hammered branches that snaked up the singer were inspired by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti, while the headpiece boasted more branches, draped in tulle, an unmissable McQueen reference.