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16 Of Our Fave Met Gala Lewks Of All Time

Let's all take a moment for the biggest night in fashion.

Beauty & Fashion

Today is a sacred day. The first Monday of May has always been the day that fashion lives its best life. It is the one day a year that is devoted to getting rich people to help fund the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute in New York City. By gathering the best, brightest, and most importantly, the most fashionable in the industry, The Met Gala, it has become the party of the year. Picture Cardi B at a table with Anna Wintour – that conversation has to be most interesting on the planet. But of course, Big Rona said, "Not up in here!" this year.

I never thought I would mourn an event the way I have with the Met Gala. Good thing I am not alone. Vogue has curated something special for us in remembrance of this event, "A Moment with the Met". The intimate celebration is set to happen on May 4 at 6 p.m. EDT via livestream exclusively on YouTube. The virtual turnup will feature an address by Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour, a special live performance by Florence and the Machine, and a DJ set from Virgil Abloh.

To keep hope alive, we assembled some of our favorite looks of all time. Check them out!

Rihanna at the 2018 Met Gala

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Robyn Rihanna Fenty is a certified Met Gala killer. It was hard to choose just one look from this multi-hyphenate icon because she gives it every single time. But this lewk from 2018 was one for the books. 2018 was actually full of hits with celebrities nailing the theme, "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination".

Rih came through in a matching jewel encrusted robe, dress and papal mitre looking like the best dressed pope EVER. The entire lewk was designed by Margiela accessorized with Cartier jewelry and Christian Louboutin heels. It was her first time wearing Margiela and she definitely left a lasting impression. We also think she came this hard because she co-hosted the gala this year.

Zendaya at the 2018 Met Gala

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Saint Joan of Arc has a new name and her name is Zendaya the queen. We know Zendaya is no stranger to slaying red carpets but she absolutely demolished the steps of the Met in 2018 with this iconic outfit. The custom Versace gown could not have been more perfect for the theme with the armor, chainmail and glimmering sequins. From her accented jewelry to the famous Maid of Orléans' bob, we stan.

Janelle Monae at the 2019 Met Gala

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Last year, Janelle Monae proclaimed that Camp, the designated motif for the gala, was embedded in her DNA. She strolled onto the carpet in an intricately, structured Christian Siriano design with a motorized blinking eye provided by Smooth Technology. This was not only a nod to Picasso but also to her love for science and fiction. Janelle wanted to specifically pull inspiration from Picasso's work as it related to tribal masks and shattered portraits. The stack of hats were also perfect for Janelle's infamous aesthetic.

Beyonce at the 2015 MET Gala

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We distinctly remember the Queen showing up late but still shutting sh*t down! The year was 2015 and Beyonce arrived to the gala in a barely-there Givenchy dress. She had us all saying, "Heyyyyyyy, Mrs. Carter!" We gave her a pass for being on CP time because there's no way this getup could have an error. One jewel out of place could make for another time Bey made the world stop. We were also living for this super high pony because it enhanced the levels of snatch-dom.

Diana Ross at the 1981 Met Gala

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Giving us shoulders and cheekbones, the legendary Diana Ross looked amazing at the 1981 gala dedicated to "The Eighteenth Century Woman". Her gown, made completely of feathers, has been on every iconic Met Gala list ever created. The dress was so fly, she pulled it out of hiding and rocked it again at the 2012 American Music Awards.

Naomi Campbell at the 1990 Met Gala

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The black Barbie herself, Naomi Campbell owned the "Thêatre de la Mode — Fashion Dolls: The Survival of Haute Couture" theme in 1990 in a mini couture dress splattered in colorful art. Her debut to the event was nothing short of groundbreaking. The supermodel's runway presence was undeniable so her attendance at this specific gala was a requirement.

Solange at the 2018 Met Gala

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First off, we don't deserve Solange. We definitely did not deserve this lewk she donned to the 2018 Met Gala. Like always, she paid homage to her culture with a braided halo and a durag that read, "My God wears a durag." What accompanied this already flawless situation? A sculpted and textured Van Herpen creation. The "Don't Touch My Hair" songstress carried Florida Water and a piece of obsidian to protect her energy because we know our homegirl ain't got time.

Iman at the 1981 Met Gala

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Wearing Calvin Klein with the designer himself on her arm, Iman stunned in a golden getup. The acccented body chain and gold earrings were it for us because it complimented her melanin so well. Seeing her in this space back then is so important because had it not been for her, Diana Ross and Naomi Campbell, there wouldn't be room for the other brilliant black women on this list.

Whitney Houston at the 1999 Met Gala

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A rock style queen if we have ever seen one. Whitney Houston wore a diamond-encrusted outfit designed by Dolce & Gabbana. It was the end of a decade and the beginning of Whitney's presence at this illustrious event. She was gearing up for her My Love is Your Love World Tour and she was all about reinventing herself.

Lena Waithe at the 2018 Met Gala

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Lena Waithe, the first black woman to win an Emmy for writing in a comedy series, lives to make a statement. The 2018 Met Gala's theme of "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination" wasn't ready for her statement in her Carolina Herrera ensemble made perfect with a rainbow cape. That evening the creator told Complex Magazine, "You talk about church and Catholicism, it's about—you were made in God's image...The theme to me is be yourself." It was something about the beat paired with the suit that made us fall in love with her feminine masculinity even more.

Cardi B at the 2019 Met Gala

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Her nipples are literal rubies valued a $250,000. Chile. I'm obsessed. Cardi's Thom Browne regalia goes down as one of the most massive trains ever. It required 10 people to guide it down the carpet which created the perfect photo opportunity on the steps of the Met. We also learned that the intricate gown was composed of 30,000 feathers that took 2,000 hours to create by 35 people.

Billy Porter at the 2019 Met Gala

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The name Billy Porter rings bells, hunty. The actor, singer and all-around entertainer extraordinaire entered the scene on a pedestal carried by six shirtless men. And his outfit? A catsuit designed by The Blonds accompanied with a 24-karat gold headpiece and wings that were high enough to touch heaven. Lest not forget the custom gold-leaf Giuseppe Zanotti shoes and fine jewels he wore from Andreoli, John Hardy, and Oscar Heyman.

Migos at the 2018 Met Gala

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The trio we all love blessed us with matching Versace suits in 2018 and we can never say thank you enough. Migos is wildly known for their flamboyant but fly attire so we loved that these black men came ready to kill it. The colorful blazers overlaid with religious pictures and iconography brought a much-needed sauce to the carpet. Of course, the Atlanta rappers had to complete their fits with jewelry that could pay off the entire world's student loans.

Jaden Smith at the 2017 Met Gala

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Oh, Jaden, how we adore thee. Only he could walk a carpet with his trademark dreads in his hands like flowers. The rapper wore man heels and a perfectly tailored Louis Vuitton suit keeping up with his unapologetic vibe. Word on the street is he also walked on the carpet with a speaker blasting his own music. We love to see it!

Andre Leon Talley at the 2004 Met Gala

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Get into this fashion king's cape of all capes. Andre Leon Talley is undoubtedly an unsung hero of the Met Gala. In 2004, with the theme of "Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the 18th Century", the former Vogue editor-at-large gave us 6'6'' glory. Seeing him on a carpet back then means so much for the queer community because he always showed up authentically and fabulously. We can't wait for his new novel as he may spill some Met Gala tea.

Ciara at the 2019 Met Gala

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Ciara's "costume" at the 2019 Met Gala has to be one of her best looks of all time. The larger than life hair coupled with the emerald green Peter Dundas dress made this look an absolute head-turner. The fact that she also twerked with Big Freedia at this distinguished gala gave us so much life.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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