- The 2019 Met Gala, held at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, was one of the year’s biggest nights in fashion.
- On the red carpet, celebrity attendees posed in an array of bold looks designed to match the event’s theme: “Camp: Notes on Fashion.”
- The theme was inspired by Susan Sontag’s 1964 Partisan Review essay “Notes on ‘Camp,'” in which she defined the concept as a “sensibility” that does away with traditional notions of good and bad taste, and instead embraces the artificial and dramatic.
- Janelle Monáe arrived wearing the “campiest” ensemble of the night, in a Christian Siriano gown that made her look like a walking painting of a face complete with mechanical “eyelashes.”
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Each year, celebrity attendees at the Met Gala are expected to arrive at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art wearing boundary-pushing outfits to match the fundraising event’s theme.
This year, the theme was “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” inspired by Susan Sontag’s 1964 Partisan Review essay “Notes on ‘Camp,'” in which she wrote about the concept as a “sensibility” that does away with traditional notions of what is considered good or bad, and instead embraces all things artificial, ironic, and dramatic.
However, not all celebrities seemed to get the memo. While some joked on the red carpet that they initially thought “camp” meant wearing the kind of clothes you would don to pitch a tent and toast marshmallows, many celebrities arrived wearing ensembles that misinterpreted or ignored the theme altogether.
Here are some of the celebrities who not only got it right, but nailed it – ranked by just how “camp” their outfits were.
14. Awkwafina channeled a “campy” nostalgic look in a gold Altuzarra dress with statement shoulders.
“Camp” isn’t just about being playful, but also about being nostalgic. Awkwafina’s shiny, tiered dress did both.
13. Lupita Nyong’o looked like a walking goddess in an opulent Versace dress with statement sleeves to match her fan.
Everything from the gold combs in her hair to her exaggerated eye makeup was an ode to “camp,” exemplifying the “‘style’ over ‘content'” and extravagance that embodies the concept.
12. Celine Dion brought out the theatrical and nostalgic qualities of “camp” in a silver dress straight out of the 1920s.
Dion’s silver fringed dress was somewhat reminiscent of what a 1920s flapper would have worn, while her headpiece added drama to her ensemble. She accentuated the nostalgic elements of her outfit with her exaggerated poses on the red carpet, which called to mind a star from an old movie.
11. Ryan Murphy looked like a fashion magician in a sparkly copper-toned suit.
Murphy didn’t skimp on the details, wearing a bow tie and an exaggerated shell-shaped collar that had a vintage feel. The showiness of the outfit was “camp” personified.
10. Cardi B wowed viewers in a dress with a larger-than-life puffy train.
Cardi B went for volume and drama with dramatic fringe details.
9. Katy Perry illuminated the carpet by dressing as a walking chandelier, and may have hinted at a prop in Sontag’s essay on “camp.”
Perry’s chandelier dress and headpiece had working bulbs, creating an ensemble that was as overdone as the Tiffany lamps that Sontag gave as an example of “camp” in her essay.
8. Billy Porter arrived in a grand way, with six shirtless men — who are all in Broadway shows — carrying him down the carpet.
Porter’s intricate golden outfit, designed by The Blonds, was practically a costume with wings and an elaborate headpiece. The theatrics behind both the red-carpet arrival and Porter’s extravagant ensemble could only be described as “camp.”
7. Cara Delevingne looked like she stepped out of a rainbow in an exaggerated look that was anything but ordinary.
Never one to buck the Met Gala theme, Delevingne wore a striped outfit that pushed the playfulness of “camp” over the edge. She wore stripes not just on her dress, but on her legs, shoes, her cane, and even her face. Her crown of lollipops and bananas was just the cherry on top.
6. Ezra Miller made his face an optical illusion for a walking red-carpet stunt.
Miller paid tribute to drag by wearing a pinstripe suit with a long train and a bustier. He also held a mask of his face while walking around with what looked like seven eyes drawn on by makeup. The optical illusion masterfully played up the unnatural essence of “camp.”
5. Hailee Steinfeld embraced the ironic nature of “camp” by wearing a dress that asked not to be photographed at one of the most-photographed events of the year.
According to Sontag, “camp” means “‘irony’ over ‘tragedy.'” Steinfeld sent that message loud and clear at the Met Gala with her Viktor and Rolf dress printed with the words “no photos please.” Her camera-shaped purse added an extra touch of irony.
4. Zendaya ascended the steps looking like a modern Cinderella, losing a slipper along the way.
Zendaya’s played up the unnatural, “anti-serious,” and performative aspects of “camp” by poking fun at her Disney past in a Cinderella-style ball gown that changed colour with the help of a fairy godmother (her stylist Law Roach).
3. Lady Gaga not only wore a number of “camp” outfits, but she performed the art of wearing — and not wearing — them.
Assisted by an umbrella-toting entourage, Lady Gaga did not just pose on the red carpet, but played the part of a celebrity getting ready in reverse, unravelling her giant pink dress to reveal three more outfits underneath before heading up the stairs in lingerie and tights. Gaga’s over-the-top, so-bad-it-was-good performance tapped into the playful, parodic nature of “camp,” and was seriously “anti-serious.”
2. Kacey Musgraves played Barbie for a night, wearing an all-pink ensemble with blonde hair.
There’s nothing real about Barbie, but she is the epitome of “camp.” Musgraves paid homage to the doll by bringing her to life in a Moschino ensemble that was as pink and plastic as her inspiration. The singer carried a hair dryer-shaped purse and tiny sunglasses to amp up the artifice.
1. Janelle Monáe arrived wearing a whimsical Christian Siriano ensemble that looked like a Picasso painting.
Monáe’s outfit embodied the love of artifice and theatricality that Sontag argued “camp” represents, from the many hats balanced above her head to the “eyelashes” that fluttered mechanically over her eye-shaped top.
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