Wearing a flame-motif gown with long gloves and a long train by Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci, Beyonce was one of the last arrivals, following in the studded heel footsteps of Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lawrence and Jennifer Lopez.
Beyonce was already thinking ahead, though, wondering if she'd need scissors at the end of the night to get out of the corset.
Many stars embraced the big Costume Institute exhibit they were there to celebrate: "Punk: From Chaos to Couture." Beyonce's co-chairs for the event included Tisci, who escorted Rooney Mara, who wore a white lace gown with exaggerated shoulders and a heavy-hardware zip front.
Mara said she never went through a punk fashion phase but "I was definitely a punk."
Tisci also dressed Kim Kardashian, who has seen much of her maternity wardrobe reviewed — almost always negatively — on social media on a daily basis. The online critics have more fodder with her floral-print, high-neck gown.
In a more classic style — but likely tabloid fodder anyway — were Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn, walking the red carpet as a couple.
Sarah Jessica Parker donned an oversized feather mohawk by Philip Treacy that complemented her graffiti-splashed and slashed gown by Giles Deacon, which she also paired with custom-made, thigh-high, tartan-plaid Christian Louboutin boots. She paid careful attention to the theme, she said. "I just want to be asked back next year! That's all that matters!"
Cameron Diaz and Anne Hathaway both said they were influenced by the punk scene — especially the music — when they were growing up. Diaz came with Kristen Stewart and Stella McCartney, who designed both of their outfits. Diaz's cobalt-colored cape dress had a severe studded belt. "I feel so chic," Diaz said.
Hathaway showed off a short blond hairdo, not dissimilar to Miley Cyrus', and a vintage burned-out Valentino gown. Hathaway said her inspiration for the outfit was Blondie's Debbie Harry, who was just a few steps ahead on the red carpet in a glitzy studded blazer by Tommy Hilfiger.
"Punk rock has a unique culture and distinct style that I really admire," Hilfiger told The Associated Press earlier in the day. "Music of all genres has always been a central influence in my designs. I tend to gravitate more toward classic American rock, but I listen to and love punk rock albums from The Ramones and Blondie."
Katie Holmes, in a moulded gown with a metal halter neckline by Calvin Klein's Francisco Costa, also gave a nod to Harry as her punk icon.
Madonna said she was a fan of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen "and that whole era." Still, she added, she didn't want her plaid jacket, netted top and stockings to be too literal. "I wanted to do my own thing, but my own twist on it."
The Met gala traditionally mixes Hollywood stars, fashion designers and top models. It's largely orchestrated by Anna Wintour, Vogue's editor-in-chief. She wore a hot-pink floral Chanel gown, which she said is a colour that symbolizes the punk movement.
The edgy theme could have thrown some people off their fashion game. "I think (punk) is so eclectic and so original and maybe it sort of represents what's very fearless about fashion."
Other fashion statements:
—Swift: form-fitting J. Mendel black silk crepe gown with black lace insert and a heavily embellished metallic crystal neckline. It was one of many looks that was to be made almost immediately available through the website Moda Operandi. (These are bona fide, designer gowns, not knockoffs.)
—Lawrence: strapless black with a slim belt by Christian Dior's Raf Simons.
—Perry: beaded Dolce & Gabbana dress with a "Joan of Arc" vibe — complete with crown.
—Cyrus: a sparkly netted gown over a sheer body slip by Marc Jacobs.
—Jennifer Lopez: black leopard sequin-embroidered gown by Michael Kors.
—Jessica Biel: Giambattista Valli snakeskin gown with macrame pants underneath.
—Jessica Alba: laser-cut leather fishtail gown by Tory Burch.
—Ashley Greene: Gold leaf-covered dress by Marchesa.
—Gwyneth Paltrow: long-sleeve, hot-pink Valentino gown.
—Claire Danes: chainmail-embroidered gown by Oscar de la Renta.
—Hailee Steinfeld: Donna Karan Atelier leather-corset dress decorated with antique gold safety pins.
—Gisele Bundchen: chain-neckline minidress by Anthony Vaccarello.
—Gwen Stefani: black bow-top gown with white bottom by Maison Martin Margiela.
Associated Press writer Alicia Rancilio contributed to this report.
Follow Samantha Critchell at http://www.twitter.com/ap_fashion and http://www.twitter.com/sam_critchell/