'China: Through The Looking Glass' Costume Institute Benefit Gala - Arrivals

Met Gala: 21 Celebrity Show-Stoppers

If you can't stand the risk, get off the carpet.

It's been called "the Oscars of fashion," but the Costume Institute's annual fundraising ball at the Metropolitan Museum of Art has a different standard of dressing. For the A-listers who dare walk this most infamous and exciting New York City red carpet — casually known as the Met Gala — the bigger the risk, the brighter the flashbulbs. Some hew to the gala's theme; others choose to follow their own drumbeat. But those who have wowed keep one rule in mind: Never, ever be boring.

Take Rihanna, who in recent years has become the one to watch for her uniquely epic outfits. Pictured: At 2015's ball, themed "China: Through the Looking Glass," assistants carry her heavy train up the stairs of the gala. "Only women who have the confidence of a queen could wear it," said the dress' designer, Guo Pei.

RIHANNA: CONFIDENCE QUEEN Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images RIHANNA: CONFIDENCE QUEEN Dress be damned! In 2009, she stood out in a Dolce & Gabbana tux with voluminous shoulders. In 2017, Rihanna stole the show in an avant-garde look by the gala&#39;s honoree, Commes des Garcons&#39; Rei Kawakubo. Vogue deemed it &quot;full-on fashion fantasy.&quot; ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images In 2017, Rihanna stole the show in an avant-garde look by the gala's honoree, Commes des Garcons' Rei Kawakubo. Vogue deemed it "full-on fashion fantasy." SARAH JESSICA PARKER: ALWAYS ON-THEME Evan Agostini/Getty Images SARAH JESSICA PARKER: ALWAYS ON-THEME Accompanied by her dress' designer, Alexander McQueen, in 2006, the "Sex and the City" star brought a touch of Scotland to the New York carpet (gala theme: "AngloMania"). For &quot;Punk: Chaos to Couture&quot; (2013), SJP paired a Philip Treacy Mohawk headdress with a gown by Giles Deacon. Rabbani and Solimene Photography/WireImage For "Punk: Chaos to Couture" (2013), SJP paired a Philip Treacy Mohawk headdress with a gown by Giles Deacon. In 2014, the year the Met Gala honored the work of designer Charles James (famous in the 1940s and &#39;50s for his ballgowns), Parker wore Oscar de la Renta with long gloves and a retro updo. Kevin Mazur/WireImage In 2014, the year the Met Gala honored the work of designer Charles James (famous in the 1940s and '50s for his ballgowns), Parker wore Oscar de la Renta with long gloves and a retro updo. BEYONCE: STICKING WITH WHAT WORKS Stephen Lovekin/FilmMagic BEYONCE: STICKING WITH WHAT WORKS "I'm so reckless when I rock my Givenchy dress," Queen B sang on "Formation," and appropriately, looks by the French fashion house (under designer Riccardo Tischi) have been her Met Gala go-to's. Pictured: 2012's gown, for the theme "Sciaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations." In 2014, for the Charles James tribute, Bey again wore Givenchy, bringing a retro vibe courtesy of a birdcage veil. John Lamparski/Getty Images In 2014, for the Charles James tribute, Bey again wore Givenchy, bringing a retro vibe courtesy of a birdcage veil. The theme for 2015 was &quot;China: Through the Looking Glass&quot;; Bey turned up in très transparent Givenchy. TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images The theme for 2015 was "China: Through the Looking Glass"; Bey turned up in très transparent Givenchy. BLAKE LIVELY: ALL ABOUT FIT Larry Busacca/Getty Images BLAKE LIVELY: ALL ABOUT FIT Her super short and ruffled teal Marchesa dress screamed California-girl couture at 2010's gala, themed "American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity." A dress that clings AND drapes? Lively (with Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld) got the best of both worlds with her gown for 2011&#39;s ball. Kevin Mazur/WireImage A dress that clings AND drapes? Lively (with Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld) got the best of both worlds with her gown for 2011's ball. JENNIFER LOPEZ: SHADES OF GLAMOUR Jamie McCarthy/FilmMagic JENNIFER LOPEZ: SHADES OF GLAMOUR Whenever Lopez teams up with Versace...expect a very revealing evening. Pictured: their 2015 Met Gala collaboration (theme: "China: Through the Looking Glass"). But wait! Wearing a soft blue, loose-fitting Valentino dress for 2017&#39;s Rei Kawakubo fete, Lopez proves she&#39;s anything but predictable. Kevin Mazur/WireImage But wait! Wearing a soft blue, loose-fitting Valentino dress for 2017's Rei Kawakubo fete, Lopez proves she's anything but predictable. CARA DELEVIGNGE: TIP-TO-TOE PERFECTION Michael Stewart/Getty Images CARA DELEVIGNGE: TIP-TO-TOE PERFECTION Serving from all angles: the model and actress got the little things right for 2013's punk theme, from the braid in her hair to the daring neckline and gold spikes of her Burberry dress. No hair? No problem: As if her Chanel suit wasn&#39;t enough of a wow, Delevingne walked the 2017 gala carpet with her shaved head painted and glittered. Jamie McCarthy/FilmMagic No hair? No problem: As if her Chanel suit wasn't enough of a wow, Delevingne walked the 2017 gala carpet with her shaved head painted and glittered. ZAYN MALIK AND GIGI HADID: CYBER ROMANCE Neilson Barnard ZAYN MALIK AND GIGI HADID: CYBER ROMANCE The former One Direction singer and his model girlfriend coordinated their efforts in 2016 for the gala's "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology" theme. The metal plates over his tux are Versace, and they paired well with the sequined bodice of her Tommy Hilfiger. NICOLE KIDMAN: A STARRY NIGHT Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images NICOLE KIDMAN: A STARRY NIGHT In her Alexander McQueen dress with transparent cape, the Oscar-winning actress was an ethereal space goddess in 2016. EMMA WATSON: FORM AND FUNCTION Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images EMMA WATSON: FORM AND FUNCTION Yes, the "Harry Potter" star's five-piece Calvin Klein look (for 2016's "Manus x Machina" gala) was certainly elegant and dramatic. But even cooler, it was also sustainable — made entirely out of recycled plastic bottles. LUPITA NYONG&#39;O: AFRICAN-INSPIRED DETAILS Kevin Mazur/WireImage LUPITA NYONG'O: AFRICAN-INSPIRED DETAILS Feathers, jewels, beads, netting, a headband: Somehow it all came together in 2014. Nyong&#39;o&#39;s shimmering mint-green Calvin Klein in 2016 was gorgeous (and also sustainable, like Emma Watson&#39;s), but it was her hair — inspired, she said, by Nina Simone and traditional African styles — that had people buzzing. James Devaney/GC Images Nyong'o's shimmering mint-green Calvin Klein in 2016 was gorgeous (and also sustainable, like Emma Watson's), but it was her hair — inspired, she said, by Nina Simone and traditional African styles — that had people buzzing. ZENDAYA: YOUNG CHAMELEON Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images ZENDAYA: YOUNG CHAMELEON In 2016, the former Disney Channel star was sleek and chic in metallic Michael Kors and a bowl-cut wig... ...but the very next year, volume was the name of her game, as she climbed the stairs of the Met wearing a dramatic Dolce &amp; Gabbana ballgown printed with parrots and tropical colors. Theo Wargo ...but the very next year, volume was the name of her game, as she climbed the stairs of the Met wearing a dramatic Dolce & Gabbana ballgown printed with parrots and tropical colors. FLORENCE WELCH: LAYERED CONFECTION TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images FLORENCE WELCH: LAYERED CONFECTION The tiers of the singer's Alexander McQueen dress glowed in the flash of the cameras in 2012. KIM KARDASHIAN AND KANYE WEST: OVER AND UNDER Jamie McCarthy/FilmMagic KIM KARDASHIAN AND KANYE WEST: OVER AND UNDER Her Balmain dress for 2016's "Manus x Machina" gala was predictably silver and curve-hugging...but it was his outfit — Balmain jacket, ripped jeans, and blue contact lenses — that inspired the most critique. SOLANGE KNOWLES: WEARABLE ART Jamie McCarthy/FilmMagic SOLANGE KNOWLES: WEARABLE ART Beyonce's little sister has her own avant-garde aesthetic. Take this Giles dress she wore in 2015, which was structured like a circle and made for some interesting poses. Her 2016 David Laport dress, atop latex leg warmers, featured pleats and, many noted, was the color of lemonade — a nod, perhaps, to Beyonce&#39;s just-released album, including references to that infamous post-Met Gala <a href="http://www.tmz.com/2014/05/12/jay-z-solange-fight-elevator-video-beyonce-met-gala" target="_blank">elevator incident</a>. Alo Ceballos/GC Images Her 2016 David Laport dress, atop latex leg warmers, featured pleats and, many noted, was the color of lemonade — a nod, perhaps, to Beyonce's just-released album, including references to that infamous post-Met Gala elevator incident. GISELE BUNDCHEN: &#39;THE BODY&#39; IN MOTION Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage GISELE BUNDCHEN: 'THE BODY' IN MOTION The supermodel loves looks that highlight her long legs and curves — like this shimmering Versace she wore in 2008. Could it be any shorter? Bundchen in 2013, wearing an Anthony Vaccarello design complete with chain links (for the punk theme). Rabbani and Solimene Photography/WireImage Could it be any shorter? Bundchen in 2013, wearing an Anthony Vaccarello design complete with chain links (for the punk theme). DIDDY: ALL ABOUT THE ATTITUDE Dia Dipasupil DIDDY: ALL ABOUT THE ATTITUDE As paparazzi snapped photos of his date, singer Cassie, the hip-hop mogul lounged on the steps — and instantly launched an internet meme. KATY PERRY: EVERYTHING BUT THE KITCHEN SINK TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images KATY PERRY: EVERYTHING BUT THE KITCHEN SINK She doesn't always receive the kindest critiques, but there's no doubt the pop star drops jaws at the ball. Here she is in 2010, in a CuteCircuit dress that lit up the carpet — literally. (A few years later, Claire Danes also glowed when the lights went down.) Wow, whoa, whaaaaaat? Perry shocked in 2017, in a look by Maison Margiela that featured a veil and crazy headgear. Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images Wow, whoa, whaaaaaat? Perry shocked in 2017, in a look by Maison Margiela that featured a veil and crazy headgear.