Goddesses on Parade: See What the Met Gala Looked Like in 2003

See all the slinky dresses, spray tans, beautiful BFFs and no-longer-together couples who walked the red carpet and partied the night away at the 2003 Met Gala, themed "Goddess: The Classical Mode."

By Natalie Finn May 01, 2023 7:00 AMTags
Watch: See Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and More FIRST TIME at Met Gala

Please excuse us, we just returned from 20 years ago and need a moment to get our bearings.

So different and yet so familiar was the Met Gala help on April 28, 2003—which, though it was a coveted (and only $3,500) ticket, was not quite the everybody-who's-anybody occasion it soon became, eventually surpassing the Oscars as fashion's biggest night. The premiere of Keeping Up With the Kardashians was still four years away, 13-year-old Taylor Swift was furiously journaling in her childhood bedroom and TikTok was just the sound a clock makes.

But the party benefiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute was still a premiere destination, a spot for the actresses of the moment—Nicole! Kate! Charlize!—to flock with supermodels, designers, style legends, icons-to-be (Victoria Beckham, still finding her post-Spice Girls legs), and other titans of pop culture. Most of whom, by the way, are still welcome at the event Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour presides over to this day.

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Stars' First Met Gala Appearances

As is always the case no matter the dress code, some attendees fully embraced the 2003 theme, "Goddess: The Classical Mode," while others could have been going anywhere fancy (or to their own wedding, commentary from the time noting how a lot of the night's looks skewed bridal). But they all looked happy to be there, back when there was nary a smartphone in sight.

Because, frankly, this thing the stars used to carry called a PalmPilot didn't have a camera.

Scroll on and soak in the social-media-devoid vibes of the 2003 Met Gala: 

Fashionable Chairs

Then-Gucci creative director Tom Ford and Nicole Kidman, fresh from her Best Actress Oscar win for The Hours, joined Vogue Editor in Chief Anna Wintour as co-chairs of the 2003 Met Gala—the event's return to the calendar after it was canceled in 2002 in the wake of 9/11. The night's theme, "Goddess: The Classical Mode," was interpreted in a variety of ways, starting with Kidman looking statuesque in—what else?—Gucci by Tom Ford.

Starting in 1971, the Met Gala took place in December for three decades until it was turned into an April affair in 2001 (incidentally, after the event was also canceled in 2000 along with the planned Chanel exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute following the death of head curator Richard Martin). The first-Monday-in-May routine began in 2005, with "House of Chanel" as the years-in-the-making theme.

Actually Famous

Kate Hudson kept the designer of her stunning Grecian-style dress, Stella McCartney, close at hand while making her Met Gala debut.

Stardust Memories

Iman's essence is basically "goddess," so the supermodel really could've worn anything and been right in keeping with the night's theme. But her dreamy white silk halter gown made her look as if she was ready to marry David Bowie all over again. Ultimately they spent 23 years as husband and wife before his death in 2016.

When You Know...

Peter Sarsgaard and Maggie Gyllenhaal had only been together for about a year when they attended their first Met Gala together. Twenty years and two kids later... they've put on quite a bit of red carpet mileage

All Too Well

Aughts-favorite duo Jake Gyllenhaal and Kirsten Dunst were in their early twenties but looked like a couple of kids in their salad days. And yet, the real question: Is there a baby-blue cap in a drawer somewhere at Maggie Gyllenhaal's house?

That '00s Conversation

Gisele Bündchen's then-boyfriend Leonardo DiCaprio wasn't in attendance, so a relatively dressed-down Ashton Kutcher took the opportunity to stand in the supermodel's orbit for a bit.

Bada Bing

In 2003, Edie Falco only had eyes for Stanley Tucci and what we now know is his killer Negroni.

Angel Weisz

Rachel Weisz was with Darren Aronofsky at the time and still years away from setting up a Dream House with Daniel Craig—but in any case, the Mummy star and future Oscar winner intrepidly traversed this Met Gala on her own.

Well-Suited

Alicia Keys played her own version of the goddess theme in a white suit with a touch of sparkle.

Easy to Read

The muses were with Sofia Coppola in her simple black slip dress, the writer-director still months away from the premiere of her critically acclaimed Lost in Translation, for which she'd win an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 2004.

Reigning Supreme

Diana Ross was the marquee performer inside the exclusive event.

Pop of Pink

Among the many monochromatic ensembles, it was easy to keep track of Molly Sims and her then-boyfriend, Without a Trace star Enrique Murciano.

Party of 3

It's only fitting that at least one of Donna Karan's grandchildren attended the Met Gala before even being born. Imminent labor wasn't going to stop Gabby Karan de Felice from enjoying date night with husband Gianpaolo de Felice, with whom she shares daughter Stefania and son Sebastian.

Mama, She's at the Met Gala Now

You couldn't stop Hairspray star Marissa Jaret Winokur from going full goddess and wearing a tiara.

First Impression

Jimmy Fallon was still anchoring "Weekend Update" on Saturday Night Live when he got all dressed up on a Monday and went to the Met Gala.

Blushing Brody

Reigning Best Actor Oscar winner Adrien Brody looked like he was still thinking about that kiss he planted on Halle Berry a month earlier.

Project Red Carpet

Zac Posen made sure Eva Amurri's ruffles remained just so.

A Night About Something

What's the deal with comedians at the Met Gala? Well, if it's Jerry Seinfeld and wife Jessica, it may have been their first splashy night out since welcoming their second child, son Julian, on March 1, 2003.

She's Got Legs

One day you're in and the next day...you're still in, if you're Heidi Klum, here smiling alongside designer Valentino.

The Grandfather

A rare Robert DeNiro Met Gala sighting occurred when he escorted his actress daughter Drena De Niro to the event. The two-time Oscar winner adopted Drea in 1976 when he married her mom, Diahnne Abbott—and though the couple divorced in 1988, Drena and her dad remained close.

Her now almost 20-year-old son Leandro De Niro Rodriguez is also in the family business, sharing the screen with his mom in A Star Is Born when they played the wife and son of Dave Chappelle's character.

Seen in the City

Kim Cattrall was forty-f--king-six and fabulous a couple of months before the first half of Sex and the City's sixth and final season premiered.

Her So-Called Met Gala

Claire Danes made a night of it in her homeland of New York.

Pretty as a Picture

Still dear friends 20 years later, Selma Blair and Jaime King complemented each other perfectly even then.

Rehearsal Run

The Sopranos star Jamie-Lynn Sigler walked the carpet with fiancé A.J. Discala a few months before they walked down the aisle. (The pair divorced in 2006 and she now has two children with second husband Cutter Dykstra.)

Best in Show

Man-about-town David Spade had a laugh with Parker Posey.

Drop Dead Gorgeous

Ellen Barkin's then-husband Ronald Perelman was her date but she stole away to compare fierce black dresses over wine with Connie Nielsen.

Family Highs

Michael J. Fox escorted his lovely Family Ties girlfriend-turned-wife (of now almost 35 years) Tracy Pollan.

Making the Scene

Then going by Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, the Bad Boy Records founder posed with supermodel Linda Evangelista.

Awe & Order

Angie Harmon and Jason Sehorn seemed like a total touchdown—especially after the football player's surprise 2000 proposal on The Tonight Show went viral before YouTube existed—but they separated in 2014 after 13 years of marriage and three daughters together.

Wintour Is Coming

A year before they got engaged, New York real estate tycoon Donald Trump and future third wife Melania Knauss attended their first of many Met Galas together. After Trump was elected president, however, event chair Anna Wintour said on The Late Late Show With James Corden that he wouldn't be welcome at the gala again on her watch.

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View More Photos From Fashion Rewind: Inside the Met Gala in 2003
Don't miss E!'s Live From E!: 2024 Met Gala red carpet Monday, May 6, starting at 6 p.m. for every must-see moment from fashion's biggest night.