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On Monday evening, Hollywood’s brightest stars will don their most dramatic, their strangest and their most avant-garde looks for the Met Gala, the annual fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. Getups in recent years have drawn inspiration from flappers and figure skaters, brides and birds. But in 1960, when the ball was held in the museum’s Great Hall for the first time, guests did not appear to be competing for any weirdest-dressed lists. Pearls, fur and big skirts ruled the evening as guests danced, LIFE wrote, “beneath the gaze of an Egyptian sphinx … and under medieval gonfalons.”
Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.