by Andre Esin
It’s been about a week long, since, the night of extravaganza that was the Met Gala and if fashion is your forté, then we scored our ultimate glory.
The first Monday in May is one of the most significant on New York’s fashion calendar, with this year’s theme a tribute to Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay “Notes on Camp”.
The fundraising night to support the contributions of the Costume Institute and Metropolitan Museum of Art for its place in the cultural life of New York and beyond, witnessed different interpretations of camp from pop camp to high camp to queer camp to comic camp and even political camp.
The question of “how camp is camp?”, stays the focus of this article as Sontag’s definition reads “love of the unnatural”, ‘artifice and exaggeration’, and ‘of failed seriousness'”. Camp therefore, embodies “loud, over-the-top fashion that makes a sartorial statement of high art and pop culture, politics and humor”, as defined by Gucci’s creative head and co-chair of this year’s gala, Alessandro Michelle. So no, this feature is not about the candor of celebrities and socialites who turned up in skintight sparkly mermaid silhouettes and basic nicely tailored black suits – and yes, we know them.
This year’s Met hosted by US Vogue editor Anna Wintour, had us judging our best ten (10) looks from the categories of mischief and esoteric experimentation, evolution and representation and of course, ostentatious joy in a way that is neither cheesy nor kitschy.
11. Michael B Jordan
Yeah, yeah, we said ten (10) but who cares? MBJ just had to make it to this list. The super-hero actor and global face of Coach Menswear brought a variation to camp in a way that was both outlandishly masculine and hell-A-sexy. I mean, this brother could wear a bin bag and have us rush up our lives whilst he just – breathes. Michael let his individuality shine through in this satin and sequin tuxedo that looked like it was fashioned out of an evening gown and even had his Chelsea boots embroidered with sequins which he paired with a Piaget watch.
MBJ subtly reminds us of how much campy fun could be had in menswear, with the longer length tux and decorative embellishments bringing a certain type swagger and extravaganza that pays homage to this years theme.
10. Celine Dion
Rumor has it that this Las Vegas showgirl didn’t quite understand the concept of this year’s Met and was to channel her inner scout girl to the event. Hilarious eh? Gratitude to her saving grace, Oscar de la Renta, who pulled her through in a fringed vampy gown inspired by Judy Garland’s role in the 1941 film – Ziegfeld Girl. This look she completed with a Noel Stewart headpiece made of singed peacock feathers and 20’s diamond earrings by Fred Leighton.
9. Kendall and Kylie Jenner
Hello, just because two Kardashians are better than one? These sisters coordinated for this year’s gala, living up to one of the 58 definitions of camp by Sontag “…a woman walking around in a dress made of a million feathers”.
Both vainly clad in Versace, the top model sister Kendall, adorned herself in a Tango orange crystal gown with a plunging neck line, sexy kiss curles and feathers sprouting down her back and at her ankles; whilst her beauty-preneur sister Kylie, opted for a complete top-to-bottom look in a Bespoke lilac dress embellished with sparkles, floor sweeping feathers and a color coordinating wig. You could spot the duo confidently posing, showing off their bougie showgirl sides for the cameras which have birthed a wave of new memes splurged all over social media.
had us all green with envy with that killer ultra-voluminous afro she brought to the carpet. Dubbed “the biggest and best hair of the night” by Vogue, Ciara channeled her “Cher” in a custom emerald beaded green gown by Peter Dunas complete with hundreds of ostrich feather trimming, delicate cut outs around the waist, side high slits and laced up edge. The 1,2 step crooner played dress up topping the look with beaded sleeves, smoky green makeup and green snake ankle strap heels. She even blessed us with pleasurable twerk in the end.
7. Lupita Nyong’o
Inspired by the drag Queens of old, this look was all three B’s – bright, beautiful and brilliant – just like the actress herself. Her flamboyant column gown by Versace, was made of embellished stars and metallic macramé accompanied by a sculptural ruffle jacket and a matching fan. The black queen of hearts teased her way around the carpet with her sporty afro and the fancy gold picks in them. Girl was serving us Black-African royalty in visions of multiple colors and architecture. “Wildly wonderful” as dubbed by Vogu, her most notable jewelry was a heritage emerald and amethyst collar necklace from Bulgari.
6. Harry Styles
Camp, “is in the eye of the beholder” and we beheld a very queer sight indeed. Harry by far, was one of the best dressed men of the evening in bespoke Gucci. The singer, fashion enthusiast and co-host known to experiment and try new things with fashion, stuck to the theme wearing a sheer frilled black blouse showing off his tattoos tucked nicely into a pair of high waisted tailored trousers. He was serving us androgynous realness culled from traditional femininity strapped in heeled boots and pearl earrings which he had his ears pierced just for the night. The look was refreshingly camp and elegant, just as Harry is.
5. Jared Leto
This look was a nod to Alessandro Michelle of Gucci’s AW 2018 collection which a lot of people found “eerily but interesting”. Jared appeared on the pink carpet in an embellished high necked red gown, with his own head for an accessory which rocked such a fuss on twitter – the most amusing being, “this explains why (he) hasn’t aged a day – spare heads. ‘When one wears out, he changes it'”. How campily surreal it is, yeah?
The whole world now officially knows that this Disney break out star has a “Cinderella syndrome”. Serving us fairytale and real time magic, Zen, looked a total princess bound with a delicate choker and chic blonde up do in this number by Tommy Hilfiger. She was assisted in her parody by her stylist – Law Roach, and his dry-iced wand playing the role of her fairy Godmother. Her most camp moment was leaving a “glass” slipper on the carpet as she walked up the stairs carrying a bedazzled purse which looked like a carriage.
3. Billy Porter
As defined by Sontag, “camp sees everything in quotations”, and this was “a whole lewk”. Billy was serving us everything royal and historic in this ancient-Egyptian ensemble as put together by The Blonds. The fashion icon, shut down the show with an entrance on a gold litter carried by able bodied shirtless men serving healthy dozes of “masculinity”. As he stepped on the gala’s carpet, he channeled his inner angel in a gold winged body suit and a giant 24-carat gold headpiece with enough eye makeup to redeem us of all our transgressions. How mystically campily burlesque!
2. Cardi B
This would have undoubtedly, been our Rihanna spot had she made it to the event this year, but the diva and style icon was busy with her “in-kind” sponsorship for her upcoming multimillion dollar project LVMH.
However, Cardi topped her look from last year, in a burgundy gown by Thom Browne which featured by far the longest and largest train of the night. Dubbed “the evening’s most memorable gown” by Vogue, everyone thought the carpets were pink till Cardi turned up, staining the entire place with her oxblood look. The Grammy winner incorporated more than 30,000 coque feathers just for trimming, a bejeweled headpiece and some tasteful nipple accents made of 44-carats rubies by Stefere jewelry which cost $250,000.
1. Lady Gaga
“Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the campest of them all?” By far, Gaga citizens! Everything about this woman is just so unabashedly satisfying, flamboyantly theatrical and unapologetically cinematic. Setting the tone for the night literally as a walking closet, the poker face songstress, appeared all glammed and dolled up in a voluminous bright pink piece by Brandon Maxwell with a matching bow head piece and a blonde bob wig.
In perfectly routine choreography, Gaga won our hearts at the super bowl of fashion proving that one dress was not “camp enough” for the Queen. Gleefully stripping down to a bra and tights whilst pulling a wagon filled with the fanciest things, the Mother Monster was dutifully ecorted by a village of umbrella-wielding dancers for not one, but four of her costume changes.
Gaga is no doubt, a true performer and when on the carpet, is when she’s most in her element.
There you have it citizens, over and camp!