Elle Fanning Brought Her ‘Maleficent’ Character to the Met Gala

When the Metropolitan Museum of Art first announced that the theme of the 2024 Met Gala and corresponding exhibit would be “Sleeping Beauties,” many minds were immediately transported to images of Disney princesses, fairy godmothers, and hardworking mice sewing up a dress. In reality, the theme was actually about antique gowns, too delicate to be shown on mannequins, and therefore destined to a life of leisurely flat display. But Elle Fanning ignored that clarification, and we can’t blame her. The actress literally played Sleeping Beauty in the 2014 film Maleficent as well as the 2019 sequel, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, so of course she heard “Sleeping Beauties,” and thought, “It’s time to bring back Aurora.”

And bring her back she did. On Monday night, Fanning arrived to the Met Gala in a custom Balmain dress, and if Tyla looked like a sand sculpture in her Olivier Rousteing design, Fanning was the ice sculpture. The actress was wrapped in a clear, almost cellophane-like fabric, sculpted around her body to create a gathered striped effect. The dress featured a fitted bodice with a straight skirt and a high slit. A classic Disney princess off-the-shoulder neckline was at play of course—mimicking Princess Aurora’s famed dress—but the highlight of the look were the two crystal birds that seemed to be lifting the dress from the shoulders, bringing a touch of fairytale magic to the ensemble.

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The best part of Fanning’s look is that it isn’t an obvious Disney princess play. It’s not a ballgown, it’s not pink, baby blue, or sea foam green, and it doesn’t obviously scream Sleeping Beauty. But the birds are a subtle and appreciated nod to the character Fanning played as well as a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement to the original assumptions around the theme.

Ahead of the evening, Fanning hinted at her look, posting images of Aurora—both the cartoon version and her character from Maleficent. Clearly, she was excited to return to the character she had so much fun playing and creating fashion moments around previously. When Fanning was promoting the second movie back in 2019, she really embraced the story for her press tour, at one point attending a premiere in a princess-like Gucci gown decorated with crystal blood drops that “fell” from her finger. Five years later, and she’s able to meld the world of fashion and fairytale once again.


Fanning completed her look with a relaxed cropped hairstyle, Chopard jewelry, and her boyfriend, Gus Wenner, on her arm. Unfortunately missing was the Maleficient to Fanning’s Aurora, Angelina Jolie, who has never attended the Met Gala, and seemingly will not grace us with her presence this year either.

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