The Costume Institute’s annual Met Gala has always been a beacon of boundary-pushing style—and it extends above the neck to powerful effect. For men, makeup is increasingly becoming one of the most powerful tools for bold self-expression. Much like it has in popular culture, it’s gained momentum on the Met Gala red carpet as the years have progressed.
In 2013, Pharrell Williams leaned into the “Punk: Chaos to Couture” theme with a rimming of kohl liner along his waterlines, while in 2018, singer Troye Sivan tapped into the celestial spirit of the “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” exhibit and upped the wattage with a golden gaze and shimmering skin.
But it was 2019’s “Camp: Notes on Fashion” theme that really inspired attendees to make grand beauty statements. Hitting the pink carpet with Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele, co-chair Harry Styles wore a dark raven manicure with pops of teal to match his ruffled black blouse, and Jared Leto harnessed the power of prosthetics to carry an uncanny carbon copy of his own head as a nod to the Italian fashion house’s viral fall 2018 runway moment. Darren Criss and Marc Jacobs each made standout graphic eyeliner statements, as did Michael Urie, albeit only on one eye in coordination with his half-gown, half-suit ensemble. Then in 2022, Lil Nas X’s gaze was punctuated by a set of gilded wing decals that completed his aureate ensemble. As his makeup artist Grace Pae put it, “We wanted him to radiate.” Mission accomplished. Finally, at last year’s event, Lenny Kravitz served up sultry smoky eyes above his lacy onyx ensemble, while Conan Gray’s visage was draped in soft pink blush for an ethereal feel.
Here, a look back at the best men’s makeup moments in Met Gala history.