And the category is... Camp: Notes on Fashion
New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art last night rolled out the pink carpet for its annual Costume Institute benefit, and as per, a super-exclusive guestlist brought the goods for the Met Gala.
To celebrate the Met’s upcoming exhibition on the US writer Susan Sontag, the theme of this year’s event was Camp: Notes on Fashion. The title nods to Sontag’s 1964 essay Notes on Camp; a landmark piece which defines camp, and outlines the aesthetic cultural impact of the style.
So, what is camp? As Susan Sontag puts it, “the essence of Camp is its love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration”. It’s over-the-top, ridiculously ambitious and extravagant: “Camp is a woman walking around in a dress made of three million feathers,” Sontag writes. Ultimately, “it’s good because it’s awful.”
Accordingly, celebs in attendance dressed to the nines, with outfits that put their own spin on camp fashion with varying degrees of success. The thing with pure camp, Sontag argued, is that it’s completely accidental – which makes an already-ridiculous ball dedicated to the thing a bit of a big ask.
Still, the Met Gala still brought some incredible costumes along with it. These are the moments that everyone’s still talking about today.
Let’s be honest, Billy Porter shut down the entire carpet
Bringing a shimmering slice of “Old Testament Realness” to the Met, Pose star Billy Porter out-walked everyone else without even touching the floor. Carried into the venue by a troupe of muscular men, lounging about in a golden winged ensemble inspired by Elizabeth Taylor playing Cleopatra, Cher’s costumes, Diana Ross, and the late ballroom queen Pepper LaBeija, who appears in the 1990 documentary Paris is Burning, it was the best entrance of the entire night.
“Camp is often used as a pejorative,” Porter told Vogue, speaking about the inspiration behind his showstopping outfit.. “What I love about having it at the Met Gala, and contextualising camp, is it brings honour to a word and genre that can be discounted very often, or thought of as cheesy. When it’s done properly, it’s one of the highest forms of fashion and art.”
Did anyone have more fun than Lizzo?
Running around the place in Marc Jacobs neon pink, an enormous fluffy coat flapping behind her like a cape, Lizzo essentially used the event as an opportunity to take selfies with absolutely everyone. Her Instagram story this morning features grinning snaps with celebs including: Tracee Ellis Ross, Idris Elba, Ashley Graham, Dua Lipa, Naomi Campbell, Marc Jacobs, Shawn Mendes, Yara Shahidi, Sarah Paulson, Billy Porter… *deep breath*… Frank Ocean, Anderson .Paak, Solange, J-Lo, Rita Ora, and Kate Moss. And as an extra bonus, Lizzo also filmed her real-time reaction to Cher’s live performance.
All eyes on Janelle Monae and Ezra Miller
Embodying the pure ridiculousness of camp, Janelle Monae wore a grand total of four hats, and turned her entire outfit into a wonky, abstract face, because why not?
And meanwhile, actor and musician Ezra Miller transformed his entire face into a hall of all-seeing mirrors with the help of make-up artist Mimi Choi. Crikey.
Despite a bit of confusion, Celine Dion came through
Speaking to E! at the Met Gala, the iconic Celine Dion admitted that she took a while to get to grips with this year’s theme. “I thought it meant camping, like we’re going camping, and everyone’s going to stay and sleep all night together.” Je téléphone à la police.
Blessedly she ended up attending in this completely outlandish dress by Oscar De La Renta. Not only did it take THREE THOUSAND HOURS to create; spectators were also quick to note her resemblance to a pasta drying rack.
The Met Gala hosts stepped up
Chaired by the former Vogue editor Anna Wintour, the benefit also appoints different co-chairs: Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and undisputed Met Gala queen Rihanna have all hosted the event in previous years. After her infamous canary yellow pizza dress, and last year’s diamond-encrusted Pope outfit, there was a Rihanna-sized hole in this year’s bonanza; luckily the latest co-chairs Lady Gaga, Serena Williams and Harry Styles did their best to step up.
Flanked by an entourage of umbrellas, Lady Gaga’s walk into the venue began on the corner of nearby 84th and Madison, and she wore four different outfits for her entrance alone. Ripping off her gigantic neon-pink dress with a 25 ft train, she revealed a succession of different dresses, and eventually crystal underwear, of course.
Fellow co-chair Harry Styles kept things more subtle, opting for a flash of nip, a single pearl earring, ruffles, heels, and initialled ‘H’ and ‘S’ rings. Someone’s been doing their homework and highlighting a worn-out copy of Notes on Camp!
Meanwhile, Serena Williams also did her reading, and embraced camp’s love of things that are ever-so-slightly- out of place. She wore trainers with her OTT yellow highlighter gown.
Katy Perry, what are you doing?
Looking less camp, and more like the lighting department at John Lewis, Katy Perry turned up dressed as a chandelier, and transformed into a gigantic hamburger in the later on. Presumably, so she could sit down for dinner.
That said, this footage of a disgruntled J-Lo squeezing past Katy Perry’s costume in the loos is probably one of the best accidental camp masterpieces of the entire Met Gala.
Frank Ocean dressed for an actual camping trip
Serving anorak-wearing dad realness, Frank Ocean’s Prada windbreaker was the sort of practical item that you might choose to pack on a camping trip to the Lake District if the weather forecast is looking a bit patchy.
But then again, is there anything more camp than turning up at the most extra ball of the year wearing something from the bargain bin at Millets? Could Frank’s look be…. the only truly camp look of the day? It remains to be seen, but probably not.
Lena Waithe reminded everyone who invented camp in the first place
Screenwriter, producer and actor Lena Waithe rocked up at the Met Gala in a literal statement piece: a sharp suit with “Black Drag Queens Invented Camp” emblazoned across the back. Look a little closer, and the pinstripes are actually tiny little cascading lyrics from some drag staples: Diana Ross’s ‘I’m Coming Out’ and the Sylvester disco classic ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’.
Her outfit also features a clanging typo, and after noticing that her jacket actually says “inventend”, people are now speculating about who forgot to run a spell check. Knowing Lena, it’s probably deliberate; a campy fail to get it completely right, and a nod to the fact that her acting career reportedly started with a typo.
The other winners of the night?
In no particular order… honourable mentions go to
And last but not least… Zendaya!