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Fashion's biggest night out is almost here. Ahead of the Met Gala that falls on the first Monday in May, we look to the fashion archives and pick out all the ornate costumes that we are looking forward to

The theme of this year's Met Gala has been announced: "Gilded Glamour", which alludes to America's Gilded Age in the late 19th century. It was a prosperous period that saw industrialists and bankers accumulate massive wealth—and show it off in the clothes they wore. Think extravagant embellishments and golden gowns, the likes of which would have been flaunted at American socialite Alva Vanderbilt’s spectacular balls. Co-chaired by Regina King, Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds and Lin-Manuel, the Met Gala is set to take place on May 2. Ahead of the event, we look to the fashion archives and pick out all the ornate costumes that we’d love to see on the red carpet.

Vivienne Westwood Fall/Winter 1995

Vivienne Westwood's Vive la Cocotte collection saw models such as Naomi Campbell in the cinched-waist gowns of the 19th century. Instead of having them fitted in actual corsets, however, the designer created the illusion of a wasp waist by emphasising the breasts and the hips of her dresses. That would be a relief for modern A-listers who want to look the part of a Gilded Age socialite without feeling restricted. 

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Dior Fall/Winter 2007 Haute Couture

With their open necklines, voluminous sleeves and slender skirts, these John Galliano creations owe much to the House of Worth, the couture house founded by Charles Frederick Worth, who dressed the wealthy women of 19th century.

Christian Lacroix Fall/Winter 1998 Haute Couture

French designer Christian Lacroix is known for his high-drama creations that nodded to historical fashion. With their full skirts, puffed sleeves and corseted bodices, these ornate gowns in particular wouldn't have looked out of place during the Gilded Age—and they still have the power to impress today.

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Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter 2010

Alexander McQueen's final collection offered sculptural dresses with ornate surfaces that nod to the past without looking outdated, but it's the closing look of a coat covered in lacquered golden feathers that remains the most memorable. 

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Dior Spring/Summer 2021 Haute Couture

For those looking to channel the imaginative looks flaunted by the guests of Alva Vanderbilt’s famous, multi-million-dollar balls, Dior's tarot-inspired dresses will make the perfect costumes. The gowns show off exquisite craftsmanship through fabrics like golden jacquard, and hand-stitched zodiac signs and tarot symbols.

Schiaparelli Spring/Summer 2022 Haute Couture

Today, nobody has championed gilded gowns quite like Daniel Roseberry at Schiaparelli. His most recent haute couture offerings, wittily crafted with trompe l'oeil details, surrealist ornamentation and extravagant proportions, are just what's needed to steal the show at the Met Gala.

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