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.
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: