Every year, the first Monday in May marks the presentation of the Met Gala. Known as the “Super Bowl of Fashion”, the highly anticipated event is paired with the reveal of the Costume Institute’s fashion exhibition, of which the gala’s dress theme is derived. This year, the theme was based on Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay, “Notes on Camp”.
Before we get into our top 10 picks for both best and worst dressed of the evening, let’s examine the theme more closely.
Many have pondered the equivocal meaning of camp. In Sontag’s essay, its definition is broken down into 58 points, each proclaiming a specific attribute. Firstly, camp is a sensibility, not an idea. No. 8 on the list states camp as being “the love of the exaggerated, the 'off,' of things-being-what-they-are-not.” Sontag goes on to say that camp is “a consistently aesthetic experience of the world”, that it prizes style over content, and aesthetics over morality.
Most importantly, camp is not serious. It is an enjoyment of human nature, of all the “little triumphs and awkward intensities of ‘character’”. To embody the sensibility is to be yourself in the most outlandish, playful, and earnest way possible. Yes, believe it or not, you can be all of those things at once.
As such, a plethora of extraordinary and eccentric outfits were seen throughout the event on May 6th, with famous figures and celebrities donning their best interpretation of camp
Here are our top 10 picks for the best dressed—those who took camp to the next level—and the worst dressed—a.k.a. the most disappointing of the night.
Billy Porter nailed the theme the moment he arrived, carried in by six male attendants and adorned in a head-to-toe gold ensemble by The Blonds, dressed as an Egyptian Sun God. Posing for the cameras, Porter took drama to new heights as he spread his sequined wings, instantly setting himself as an icon of the night.
Lady Gaga wore not one, but four looks by Brandon Maxwell. Her entrance to the Met Gala spanned 16 minutes in total, as she revealed each of her outfits, ascending and descending the staircase with her five, umbrella-toting backup dancers, and brandishing the spectacular flair that she’s well known for.
Hamish Bowles, Vogue’s editor-at-large, wore this absolutely major lewk by John Galliano for Maison Margiela. With sea-foam pastel hair, purple suit, and wildly colorful fringed cape, he breathed the essence of camp with each swish of his outfit.
Zendaya dressed in a fairy tale-esque gown by Tommy Hilfiger, paying homage to her work with Disney. Accompanying her was her stylist and “Fairy Godbrutha”, Law Roach, who waved his wand and as if by magic, lit up Zendaya’s dress in a glowing, spell-binding light. As she made her way up the stairs, she left her ‘glass slipper’ on the steps, topping off her entrance in true Cinderella fashion.
Lupita Nyong’o captivated the pink carpet with a rainbow-colored Versace gown featuring fluffy, Technicolor shoulders and a shiny, pink star overlay. Her hair was set in a high afro, embellished with five gold Afro picks, each ending in a black power fist, which finished off her look with a campy impact.
Now, Harry Styles wasn’t necessarily badly dressed – he showed up Monday night in Gucci, with a sheer black shirt showing off his tattoos and a single, pearl drop earring. However, he’s been known to have a penchant for colorful, idiosyncratic suits, so this look came off rather muted and boring, especially since he was one of the four co-chairs of the event this year.
Always known for his unexpected choices, Kanye seemed to take the theme of camp in the most literal sense and arrived in a full-on Dickies fit. Standing next to his wife, Kim Kardashian West (who wore Thierry Mugler), he looks like he’s either her security detail or about to trek it out in the great outdoors.
Many wondered why the influencer was present at the Met Gala, especially when fan favorites Rihanna and Blakely Lively were noticeably absent. Though he was dressed to impress with his Alexander Wang ensemble, we’re reminded of the 58th point of Sontag’s essay, “[..] it’s good because it’s awful … Of course, one can’t always say that.” In this case, it’s safe to say that the latter rings true.
The supermodel wore a gold minidress with black, puffy sleeves that was designed by Gucci x Dapper Dan. With all of her networks and connections in the fashion industry, Kloss’ look was wholly underwhelming, to say the least.
Rami Malek sported a Saint Laurent suit with a shimmery shirt and red and black striped shoes. However, as he played Freddie Mercury in the 2018 movie Bohemian Rhapsody, we expected Malek to have picked up some sort of fashion sense from the iconic singer. Needless to say, his rather effortless look hardly did the high-intensity theme any justice.