Actress Alia Bhatt in a light green and floral sari at the 2024 Met Gala, with photographers in the background.

Asian celebrities brought it to the 2024 Met Gala

Some of our favorite looks, interpreting the theme "Garden of Time, from the fashion event of the year

Alia Bhatt at the 2024 Met Gala.

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Words by Vandana Pawa

Every May, A-listers from all over the world descend upon New York’s Upper East Side for the event known as fashion’s biggest night: the Met Gala. This year’s event was shrouded by a feeling of disconnect by viewers at home, with many social media creators calling out the eerie similarities between reality and dystopian novels like The Hunger Games as the sounds of pro-Palestine protests rang loud at the bottom of the Met steps. The clothing takes this comparison to the next level, with the extravagant, architectural designs of the Gala mimicking those worn by wealthy and powerful residents of the Capitol in the series.

This year, the evening celebrated a new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute titled “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion.” According to museum curator Andrew Bolton, the exhibit is centered around five historically significant pieces from the Costume Institute’s permanent collection that are too fragile to actually be worn again—the so-called sleeping beauties are the garments themselves. There was also a second piece to the event’s dress code: the Garden of Time, based on the short story written by J.G. Ballard, allowing for a variety of interpretations to this year’s theme.

Surprisingly, while the exhibit is focused on showcasing hundreds of archival pieces to highlight the beauty of fashion conservation and sustainability, most attendees at the event chose to don brand new, custom pieces rather than pull from the archives of their favorite designers. Check out a roundup of our favorite looks from AA+PIs at the 2024 Met Gala:

Mindy Kaling

Actor and writer Mindy Kaling quickly became a crowd favorite for Best Dressed at this year’s event. The Met Gala veteran wore a gown by Indian designer Gaurav Gupta, which Gupta titled “The Melting Flower of Time.” “The gown features a central bud surrounded by delicate petals, each intricately designed to create the illusion of melting from a fully bloomed flower,” the designer says on Instagram. On theme for the evening, the garment perfectly captured both the essence of the Garden of Time as well as the sculptural, abstract gowns that Gupta has perfected over nearly 20 years of design work.

Alia Bhatt

Bollywood superstar Alia Bhatt attended the Gala for the first time last year, and returned with another stunning look in 2024, wearing a couture sari by Indian designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee. Time was an important factor in this interpretation of the theme, with the timelessness of the sari and the enduring craft of traditional Indian craftsmanship. “As the galloping horde of mechanization, modernization, and uniformity march ever closer; it is craft, that embodiment of human touch, tradition and diversity that will safeguard culture from the passage of time,” the designer said on Instagram.

Greta Lee

After a whirlwind year in 2023, Past Lives actress Greta Lee made her Met Gala debut this year wearing custom Loewe. While her sheer white dress was feminine and delicate, her accompanying choppy hair and dewy makeup made the look especially androgynous. Her glam squad was made up of what Lee calls a “harem of incredible Asian women.” Her makeup was done by Nina Park, her hair by Jenny Cho, and her nails by Naomi Yasuda. According to Vogue, the key to her makeup was Japanese beauty brand Addiction Tokyo.

Simone Ashley

With a new season of Bridgerton dropping soon, Simone Ashley’s appearance at this year’s Gala was an exciting return. The actress wore a gown by Nepali American designer Prabal Gurung, inspired by a South Asian lehenga choli silhouette. Ashley’s look was reminiscent of a dark and starry night sky, with her interpretation of the theme also leaning towards the natural zones of the exhibition. The look was accessorized with pieces from Zoya Jewels, an Indian jewelry brand.

Charli XCX

Musician Charli XCX leaned into her punk rock side with her look, working with Marni and the brand’s creative director Francesco Risso to create a unique upcycled garment. What looked like a regular dress from afar, upon closer inspection, is actually a gown made from vintage white t-shirts from the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. Each piece of the gown was a nod to the idea of the old, fragile pieces that were deemed “sleeping beauties” by the Met, and for Charli’s interpretation, time was measured by your favorite shirt. “You know when you find that one perfectly fitting, perfectly feeling white T-shirt that you never want to throw away?” she asked Vogue. “As time goes on those T-shirts become more worn, softer, more desirable. We liked using this as a starting point for the dress.”

Stray Kids

K-pop stars Stray Kids made their debut at the Met Gala this year, wearing custom Tommy Hilfiger. While they’re not the first K-pop stars to grace the steps of the Met, this is the first time all members of a group have attended the event together. All members were dressed in the classic Hilfiger colors: red, white, and blue. Soft silk and floral detailing pulled their looks together as a cohesive eight-piece group.

Ambika Mod

First-timer Ambika Mod has been rocketing to stardom this year after her role in Netflix’s One Day. Mod made her debut wearing custom Loewe with a unique twist—her dress was not just a dress, but a canvas for a 3D digital print of a 1951 ball gown by designer Charles James. With this piece, the theme was interpreted in a way that allowed for new, modern innovations to help revive and celebrate fragile, old garments.

Michelle Yeoh

Beloved actress Michelle Yeoh returned to the Met Gala this year, debuting a new short, bob hairstyle. Yeoh wore a tin foil-like gown by Balenciaga that was inspired by the brand’s creative director Demna’s childhood. “He said it was something he did when he was a young child, playing with tin foil and making dresses on his sister's toys," she told People. While the dress wasn’t actually made of foil, their take on the theme came from the malleability of material—“You can mold it. You press it and it feels like it's frozen in time,” Yeoh said.

Bright Vachirawit

Thai hearthrob Bright Vachirawit attended the Met for the first time, making him the first artist from Thailand to ever attend. His stardom has been rising since a breakout role in the 2020 Thai BL drama 2gether: The Series, and the 2022 announcement that he was a global ambassador for Burberry. With this partnership in mind, Bright made his debut on the Met steps in head-to-toe Burberry, custom designed by Daniel Lee.

Jennie Kim

Global icon and K-pop idol Jennie Kim was another second-timer at the event. The BLACKPINK member wore a cobalt blue custom piece by ALAÏA, draped with teardrop shaped pearls and gold chains. While this look might not seem on-theme, it likely points to the three main “zones” of the museum exhibition—Land, Sea, and Sky—seeking to pay tribute to the natural world. Kims boldly colored waves of fabric are definitely giving ocean vibes.

Laufey

Published on May 7, 2024

Words by Vandana Pawa

Vandana Pawa is a Bangkok-born, Brooklyn-based culture and fashion writer. You can find her on Twitter or Instagram @vandanaiscool.