The Best and Worst of Camp: Notes on Fashion
When I heard that the theme for this year’s Met Gala was Camp, I got super excited to see what celebrities and their stylists would pull out for the red carpet. Camp’s presence in fashion has become more and more apparent recently, particularly with the influence of icons of mainstream media that highlight the magic of this more-is-more ideology: stars like Rupaul, Cher and Ezra Miller are really pushing the boundaries of taste, individuality, self-expression and most importantly, humor and I was so excited to see the materialization of Camp’s power.
With a theme like Camp, I definitely had a feeling that we were going to see more than just fashion this year, particularly since regular invitees are often outside the fashion industry, and encompass fashion as a performance art rather than just a fabulous garment. With that in mind, I absolutely knew that there were going to be some faults among the fabulous presentations of the night. Not everybody can be like Lady Gaga and reveal four unique looks in a fifteen-minute striptease-outfit-reveal-extravaganza. Sometimes fabulous performers try and fail, and I’m not going to say we saw too much failure tonight, but we definitely saw a few questionable takes on camp…But I’m sure they’d make for some good memes.
Co-chair Lady Gaga revealed four separate looks for the gala from a 25 foot long train to a sequins bra and panty
I will say, I was the most disappointed in the lack of male-engagement in this year’s gala and opted to not include the attendees who simply did not participate in the campy-dress code. While I’m normally impartial to a good suit-and-tie, at this year’s gala, if your suit and tie didn’t come with a performance of its own…you’re cancelled.
Without further ado, here are the slays and nays of the 2019 Met Gala!
Camp Queens: The Slayers of the Night!
Campy yet simultaneously avant-garde, Janelle Monáe absolutely slayed in this Christian Siriano Picasso-Dali-inspired dress with a real blinking crystal eye on the bodice. I especially loved the leaning tower of wide-brimmed hats that she wore as a headpiece; it’s slightly bonkers in the best possible way. I must say that my eyes were certainly on her!
Channeling the evil stepsisters from Disney’s Cinderella (but make it fashion!), Kendall and Kylie took over the gala in complimentary Versace gowns. In a gala filled with sequins, feathers and vibrant colors, Kendall and Kylie absolutely dominated. With influences from Bob Mackey to Carnival to Cher, the Jenners managed to combine Gala-grade sexiness with crazy, campy opulence. The slipper might not fit, but who cares when the fit is fly anyway.
No stranger to Alessandro Michele’s whimsical regality at Gucci, Florence Welch stunned in this jade green and lavender number that had her looking like a queen. I think it was a perfect blend of her signature softness combined with a statuesque glory in those fabulous 3-D wings; and though it wasn’t as explicitly “on-theme”, I feel like this look still embodies the excesses and opulence of Camp but combined with Florence’s signature style as well.
Another Gucci goddess, Saoirse Ronan absolutely slayed me in this Imperial red and gold Dragon gown. The look is definitely on the simpler side of the looks we’ve seen, but is nonetheless super glam. I have to give props to Ronan’s hair and makeup team, because she was serving Daenerys realness and I am not mad at all; why be a drag when you can be a dragon?
We saw so many (read: too many) head to black looks on this red carpet; and though I’m impartial to a good monochrome fit, I was utterly disappointed in what I saw - until I saw this look. Laverne Cox brought me this amazing silhouette from Christian Siriano with that fabulous blossoming ruffle- couture headpiece - turquoise hair moment and my faith was restored in the impact that a fabulous silhouette can have.
Surreal, androgynous, playful and rebellious, these are the areas where camp crosses over with Ezra Miller, who in my opinion, is fashion’s rising star. Dressed in a custom Burberry suit-dress and corset, Miller is serving all sorts of optical illusion, mind boggling, gender bending fantasy and I cannot complain. Not to mention, Ezra’s makeup team absolutely killed it with those five photo realistic eyes and stunning red lip, creating a look that is undoubtedly campy as it is undoubtedly Ezra.
What’s a gala without a glamorous gal? Constance Wu is absolutely killing it in this gorgeous 1920’s-inspired gown by Marchesa. Channeling starlets of the past, this Hollywood honey is bringing us a more refined vision of camp; a playful, but melodramatic vision of glamor that I think really aligns with her point of view on both performance and fashion. I am also obsessed with that dark lip and smoky eye, which totally completes Constance’s look and brings out this persona that we've never seen before. It’s an absolute slay for me!
Finally, I must cite the queen herself: dame Anna Wintour in this fabulous Chanel Couture gown and coat. As the Chair of the event, executive producer of the gala and Editor-in-Chief of the world’s most influential fashion magazine, Anna Wintour absolutely killed the theme of this year’s gala while still maintaining her signature sophistication. The look is playful and light with those beautiful bouncing feathers, yet totally ladylike with those marvellous, embroidered florets. In my eyes, this look is the penultimate combination of glamorous and campy: Glampy! and it is certainly a triumph on top of the amazing Gala this year.
Camp Questionable: A No From Me.
Okay, so I want to preface this by saying that I really want to like this look, but I think I’m physically unable to give it more than a pity laugh. I think that Gigi is an amazing model with a willingness to do whatever is asked of her, but I think this look does not suit (haha) her at all. It’s really just too many things at once: Star Wars meets a gold lamé tree that nests an ostrich who laid an egg on Gigi’s head. On another star, I’m sure the look would have been one of my faves, but on Gigi, I find that such an outrageous look washes out her beauty, her personality and her fashion perspective. I think that this look really hides who she is and I hope that next year, she finds a look that screams “Gigi” rather than “Confused Hedwig”.
Bibbidy, Bobbidy, BOOOOOOO! Alright, I get it: Camp seems like a theme where you can venture into costume, but I think the fault in that is that costume can become cheap really REALLY fast and I’m afraid that’s what happened with this Tommy Hilfiger x Cinderella Ballgown. So I get the idea, Law Roach, Zendaya’s “image architect” played the role of the fairy Godmother and turns Zendaya’s grey ballgown into a glowing blue gown, and while I appreciate the concept, I feel like the execution fell short. It seems too much like a rip-off of Claire Dane’s gown from a few years ago and a cheap one at that. I wish that instead of just turning the lights on, Zendaya had more of a full transformation; I wanted her to reveal some kind of alternate outfit that took this campy look into something more chic and playful; I wish those ridiculous puff sleeves came off along with that blonde wig to reveal something that gave me more Zendaya and more fashion. Though it seems that wishing on this star won’t grant me what I want :(
Okay so I’m all for taking a risk during the Met Gala; I love that Amber really wanted to push herself and highlight something very sexy and fun for the gala with this Saint Laurent look, and I really think that I would have really liked this look if it was tailored a little bit differently, but I’m sorry, that cameltoe might be where I draw the line. I love the neon-green feathered coat and the heels and that intense bang, but I think that bodysuit could have been executed in a way that still retained that sexiness without that unfortunate wardrobe malfunction. I will give Amber credit for taking a risk, but I think the risk may not have paid off this time.
Where’s Sia when you need her? Okay, I have very little to say about this look, just that I think that Katy should have brought a bit more fashion to the Met and a bit less Beauty and the Beast. Jeremy Scott designed a similar dress in 2016, but at least that gown hit the floor and brought me an intersection between fashion and humor. This? This is a chandelier and also a mess. That’s all.
I would love to hear how K-Stew would explain this…choice. We’ve seen that Chanel has the capacity to be both campy and chic, but I think this look is neither, and also definitely not fit for a red carpet. A sequins culotte with a sequins black top and an imbalanced array of chains gives me more Drag Queen Loungewear than Met Gala, and not even in a good way. On top of that, I don’t understand this dip-dye popsicle colored hair and equally confusing creamsicle brow moment. I know that Kristen Stewart has a more minimal, cool style that might not align well with this year’s theme, but I think that translated more into her outfit fighting with itself rather than an incorporation of her perspective into her look. It’s disharmonious to say the least and in my opinion, both boring and too much, which I never thought was possible.
I think this might be one of the most disappointing looks of the night, and what makes it more disappointing is the fact that Harry Styles was a co-chair of the gala, wearing the designs of one of his other co-chairs, Alessandro Michele. I think this outfit is a bleak look at what could have been, but sadly a mesh top with grandpa-ish high-waisted trousers and a ring on every finger is a weak attempt at Camp. And I’m surprised, Harry Styles normally pulls out some really vibrant, creative and avant garde looks and I think that this one simply fell short. I feel like there’s nothing exciting about a head to toe black outfit with a big bow and exposed nipples. I think Harry has so much more reverence for fashion than what he’s showing and I’m hoping he toned down his own look to make this looks of his co-chairs all the more vibrant, but really Harry? Really?
And there you go! My top toots and boots from the Met Gala! To see every look from the red carpet, be sure to check out Vogue’s red carpet coverage here!
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