Let the gowns begin! Yesterday, the Costume Institutes's annual benefit gala took place at the MET in New York. The crème de la crème of Hollywood's celebrities along with the fashion elite took to the red carpet to honor Paul Poiret, France's 'King of Fashion'. Last year the theme was AngloMania where the stars turned to kilts and tartan, however this year's Poiret tribute meant a nod to retro Hollywood glamour.

Cameron Diaz (above, left) floored us all in this stunning Dior by John Galliano gown similar to the one recently worn by Drew Barrymore. We haven't seen Diaz looking this good in a while and those turquoise Fred Leighton jewels just make her eyes pop. Likewise, Jennifer Garner's strapless red Valentino dress had us drooling at the mouth. There's nothing like a piece of Valentino to get the fashion pulses racing.

So who was Paul Poiret? Well keep on reading and you will soon found out. That, plus more red carpet pics after the jump...

Yesterday the Costume Institute paid tribute to legendary designer Paul Poiret (1879-1944), an artist and courtier renowned for freeing women from the corset by launching the modern brassiere. Poiret also helped to create the suspender belt, flesh-coloured stockings as well as present the first sheath and sack dresses. His oriental Art Deco gowns also helped to embed him in fashion history. His story is a remarkable one especially since he did not know how to sew and therefore helped to shape the world of design by introducing drapery as oppose to tailoring.

Sandra Bullock (above, left) hit the red carpet yesterday in Alberta Ferretti while Renee Zellweger (above, right) showed off her new cropped 'do in a gorgeous floor-length gown by Carolina Herrera.

[Images: Getty]