With the theme “Camp: Notes On Fashion”, the 2019 Met Gala provided the chance for guests to really go all out and have fun with their outfits. It celebrates the excesses of exaggeration and love of the unnatural.
The corresponding fashion exhibition (which runs until Sept 8, 2019, at the Metropolitan Museum Of Art) explores how over-the-top fashion can be – or rather, in what way it has been used as both a form of expression and escapism throughout history.
“Camp is by nature subversive… confronting and challenging the status quo,” the Costume Institute’s head curator Andrew Bolton said at a press event about the exhibition before the gala.
“In the end, the purpose of camp is to put a smile on our faces and a warm glow in our hearts. We’re experiencing a resurgence of camp – not just in fashion, but in culture in general.”
Some of the items on display include the “swan dress” worn by Bjork to the Oscars, a glittering costume spotted on flamboyant singer Liberace, a shower head necklace designed by the late Karl Lagerfeld for Chloe in the 1980s. This year’s theme is borrowed from writer Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay “Notes On Camp”, published in Partisan Review, which codified and mainstreamed the cultural connotations of the word “camp”.
As Sontag aptly notes, clothes are frequently the vehicle for a camp sensibility. In millennial speak, it is simply “the art of being extra”.
Here’s a look at some of the most outstanding looks.
Cara Delevingne wore a rainbow-coloured bodysuit with a matching cane. She gets extra points for her outlandish headgear, resplendent with bananas, wind-up teeth and even eyeballs.
A beige suit with a sheer overlay, blue cowboy boots and sheer blue turtleneck. Cody Fern definitely delivered when it comes to the theme. You’ll have to admit, it can’t get more camp than what he wore.
Gemma Chan chose a glittering chainmail-like dress for the occasion. Embroidered with thousands of crystals, she matched it with a cape and the most over-the-top headdress.
Janelle Monae turned to Picasso and Dali for inspiration. Her surreal outfit included asymmetrical sleeves and a tower of hats stacked haphazardly.
Ezra Miller’s look was theatrical, to say the least. It was also outright trippy. In a plain suit, he carried around a blank-face mask. Underneath it, he revealed his true face, painted with five eyeballs.
Lighting up the red carpet was Katy Perry – literally. She was dressed as a chandelier, complete with lit bulbs and draped, dangling crystal beading.
Jared Leto’s caused quite the commotion by showing up with a severed head. The red gown and body jewellery he wore made quite a statement, but somehow they didn’t matter, eclipsed by what he had in his arms.
Channeling a drag queen, Lupita Nyong’o wore a see-through sparkly gown and rainbow-colored wings. In addition, she sported gold picks in her afro and a rainbow fluffy fan.
Sensational, that would best describe Saoirse Ronan’s outfit for the night. Her red sequinned gown had a green and silver patterned neckline, together with a dramatic gold structured shoulder pads.
Wearing a multicoloured chequered blazer with a giant bow top underneath, Darren Criss looked all sorts of dapper. Yet, it was his makeup that fit the theme of being “camp”, from blue winged eyeliner to a slight accent on the lip.
There is probably no theme more fitting for Lady Gaga than “camp”. The star made an appearance wearing a voluminous bright pink dress that she shed on the red carpet to reveal three other outfits.