The Met Gala isn’t just one of the most coveted parties of the year, it’s also a cultural moment, in which the evening’s fashion says as much about society as, say, fine art or theater. Designers like Zac Posen work intensely to create intricate pieces that function as living sculpture, to be talked about in the days following the event.

For those in visual industries, this year is of particular interest. The benefit for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute celebrates the exhibit Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, which explores how technology has impacted the creative process and craft of fashion. The timing is perfect. As Getty Images visual trends experts noted, technology is impacting the creative process in so many ways these days, changing the way we live our lives, make images and decipher our surroundings.

We’ll be watching this art-as-fashion moment closely to see what creations this year’s red carpet has in store. In the meantime, designer Zac Posen, whose elaborate couture adorns the biggest celebs, shares with us some of his favorites from years past.

 

Stella Schnabel: Dangerous Liaison–Fashion and Furniture in the 18th Centuries (2004)

“She wore this incredible Eider down embroidered  gown, patterned on the bias with fleur de lis fabric. The feather down were ecologically collected in Antarctica when the geese start their migration and leave the nest.”

2004 Costume Institute Gala 'Dangerous Liaisons' - Departures

 

 

Christina Ricci: Alexander McQueen – Savage Beauty (2011)

“She was a sensation and trained her waist over the weekend into the corset – the dress looked spectacular on her. But we did change halfway through the evening in a secret hallway in the museum thanks to my Met guard friend.”

"Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty" Costume Institute Gala At The Metropolitan Museum Of Art - Arrivals

 

Amber Heard: Schiaparelli and Prada – Impossible Conversation  (2012)

“It was one of Amber’s first major red carpet moments–before the Johnny days. It was clear to me that she had magnetic star quality.”

"Schiaparelli And Prada: Impossible Conversations" Costume Institute Gala

 

Uma Thurman: Punk Couture (2013)

“It was extraordinary to witness the crowd parting ways while she made her entrance, and to see how astonished they were by her goddess presence.”

"PUNK: Chaos To Couture" Costume Institute Gala

 

Karen Elson and Dita von Teese: Charles James – Beyond Fashion (2014)

“My dresses were an homage to Charles James – Dita’s dress was inspired by her signature retro nails. And Karen Elson chose her dress on a shoot with Grace Coddington. It was a momentous year and a big undertaking as we dressed over 13 people.”

"Charles James: Beyond Fashion" Costume Institute Gala - Arrivals

 

Katie Holmes: China Through the Looking Glass  (2015)

“One of my favorite moments that evening was our stroll through Central Park before arriving at the Met. Katie was stunning in my navy gown with auspicious clouds embroidered.”"China: Through The Looking Glass" Costume Institute Benefit Gala - Sightings

Explore all of the stunning fashion from the 2016 Met Gala at gettyimages.com