The Met Gala has had some of the most defining moments of pop culture history in the 2000s: Solange and Jay-Z’s elevator fight, Kim Kardashian’s “couch dress” while pregnant with North, and Madonna’s “political statement” (a butt-less dress) in 2016 all happened after they graced the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
You’ll note that a lot of the drama tends to go down after the event itself and once the afterparty kicks off — or doesn’t, as was the case for Eddie Redmayne and Tom Sturridge when they were turned away from Rihanna’s 1 Oak bash in 2017. In some cases, the scandal is just in the arrival, like Elon Musk and Grimes’ triumphant red carpet reveal of their relationship in 2018. At the Met Gala, hosted each year by Vogue‘s Anna Wintour, the guest list alone has caused decades worth of drama in who does and doesn’t make the cut, with Kim Kardashian admitting in a 2019 Vogue video that she knew “no one really wanted me there at the time” when she was first invited in 2013.
That’s the other thing: it’s not just getting in that can be brutal, but having a good time. Gwyneth Paltrow, Tina Fey, Amy Schumer, and Lena Dunham have all spoken out about not enjoying themselves whatsoever at this star-studded event.
“I’m never going again,” Paltrow said in 2013 (though she did go again, in 2017 and 2019). “It was un-fun. It was boiling.”
“It is such a jerk parade,” Fey told David Letterman in 2015. “Every jerk from every walk of life is there, wearing, like, some stupid thing. . . I dragged my husband along with me, which I’m still in trouble for. Clearly, I’ll never go again.”
With all that in mind, perhaps we should judge these attendees less harshly, either for their attire or the unusual behavior they might exhibit. After all, it sounds like they’re under a lot of stress…
Read on for the scandalous moments from Met Galas past that made headlines for years to come.
Solange & Jay-Z’s Elevator Fight
The year was 2014, and the players were Solange Knowles, Beyoncé, and husband Jay-Z, who — pictured here on the red carpet — had no idea they were about to make history. At the afterparty that night, Solange was seen attacking Jay-Z while Beyoncé stood by in the elevator at the Standard Hotel, from which security footage later leaked. The couple ultimately issued a statement and Beyoncé later addressed the incident in her song “Flawless,” singing: “Of course sometimes s—t go down when there’s a billion dollars on an elevator.”
With the release of Lemonade in 2016 and Bey coming clean about Jay-Z’s infidelity, many of course suspected the elevator altercation had started there.
Madonna’s Assless Dress
Madonna, being Madonna, made headlines at the 2016 “Manus X Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” show with this assless Givenchy dress, later addressing the haters in an Instagram caption: “My dress at the Met Ball was a political statement as well as a fashion statement. The fact that people actually believe a woman is not allowed to express her sexuality and be adventurous past a certain age is proof that we still live in an age-ist and sexist society.”
Reese Witherspoon Drunkenly Saying ‘Delevingne’
Reese Witherspoon has a few highly memorable intoxicated moments captured on camera, but this 2014 elevator video of her trying to say Cara Delevingne’s last name while Zooey Deschanel laughs on is one of our personal favorites. The Southern twang is out in full swing as she tells the other stars there: “the most important thing about a name, for a girl, is that a man can whisper it in his pillow.”
Dakota Johnson, Bella Hadid, & More Sneaking Cigarettes in the Bathroom
No, there isn’t a smoking section at the Met Gala — but some photos from the 2017 event would have you thinking otherwise. That fateful year, Dakota Johnson, Bella Hadid, Marc Jacobs, Paris Jackson, Rami Malek, and more celebs were caught on camera smoking cigarettes in the bathroom, much to the outrage of Met donors and board members who found out about the incident. Armie Hammer was also caught on camera, vaping.
“As a donor to the Met, I was so insulted to see all these ‘celebrities’ smoking and taking selfies of themselves in the bathroom,” an anonymous source told Page Six at the time. “Mostly, it’s disrespectful to the art collection which needs to be kept 100 percent smoke-free. I would honestly like to see these people fined by the city.”
Taylor Swift Hitting It Off With Tom Hiddleston
Taylor Swift was with boyfriend Calvin Harris when she went to the 2016 Met Gala, but sparks were definitely flying with British actor (and boyfriend-to-be) Tom Hiddleston, with whom she was pictured sharing an impromptu dance to The Weeknd during the ceremony. A month later, Swift and Harris called it quits — and by June of that year, the short-lived HiddleSwift was in full swing.
Grimes & Elon Musk’s Red Carpet Debut
Look, this just isn’t a couple we saw coming. At the 2018 “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination” show, Grimes went full goth-girlfriend to Elon Musk’s supervillain billionaire boyfriend, and the two proud parents of X Æ A-12 made their official debut.
Kim Kardashian’s ‘Couch Dress’
Kim Kardashian attended the Met Gala for the very first time in 2013 when she was pregnant with her eldest daughter North West, and the reception was….not great. Many got the idea that Kardashian resembled a couch, and a “couch dress” meme was born, which the star admitted in a 2019 Vogue video made her cry.
“I was crying the whole way home. Because I just couldn’t believe it,” she recalled. “There were all these memes about me and this couch.”
Even Robin Williams got in on the fun, comparing her to Mrs. Doubtfire — and it just wasn’t the glamorous debut Kardashian had had in mind. She’s since said that she doesn’t think the body-shaming she endured while pregnant “would really fly today,” and we wonder if this incident was on her mind when she did.
Eddie Redmayne’s Afterparty Rejection
Eddie Redmayne and wife Hannah Bagshawe’s 2017 Met Gala didn’t go quite according to plan when they showed up to Rihanna’s 1 Oak afterparty only to be denied access — twice, according to an E! News source at the time. Pal Tom Sturridge similarly did not find his name on the list, and eventually gave up and went home.
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