It was another banner year for the Met Gala, fashion and fundraising’s True Fashionista hour. The theme, “Camp: Notes on Fashion” was on display in full force. Quick review of the meaning, which in case you’re even questioning, is not a summer flashback to canoeing on a lake and popsicle stick arts ‘n crafts projects: Camp in this context refers to a term coined in a groundbreaking 1964 Susan Sontag essay, “Notes on Camp”,  where she argued how the love of the unnatural, displayed via artifice and exaggeration, can be summed up in that one word; how, as TIME summarizes in her 2004 obituary, she discussed a more sensuous, less intellectual approach to art. The essence of camp, Sontag says, “is the love of the exaggerated, the ‘off,’ of things-being-what-they-are-not.” To relate camp in films, think of Rocky Horror Picture Show or pretty much any John Waters film. OK, camp defined. Onward..

Andrew Bolton, Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, found Sontag’s landmark essay to be especially relevant as it relates to today’s current political and cultural climate. What better place to show off one’s camp aesthetic to the world than on the first Monday in May in the heart of NYC? Sponsored by Gucci, the 2019 Gala was co-chaired by Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele, alongside Gucci muse musician Harry Styles, tennis phenom Serena Williams, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and singer/actress Lady Gaga, quite often herself the embodiment of camp in her fashion choices. (Meat dress, anyone?)  Guests were instructed to dress with “studied triviality”.

As we know, Gaga has a track record of pushing the limits. For this Gala co-chair, just one brilliant outfit simply was not enough. Her camp-inspired red-carpet entrance included an interpretive dance complete with umbrella-carrying men in black, who assisted in a series of seductive costume changes showing off four different Brandon Maxwell ensembles. Variety notes that she was also adorned in $2 million worth of Tiffany diamonds!

Cardi B’s red carpet moment required the assistance of no fewer than eight people to properly handle the massive train on her blood-red Thom Browne gown. The statement-making dress and matching headpiece were mesmerizing in both color and scope.

And who needs to dress in just clothing? Not Janelle Monae, sporting a True Fashionista Christian Siriano ensemble complete with four-hat headpiece and giant yes-it-really-was-winking eye on her upper abdomen, or Katy Perry, who embraced the campy theme in fine fashion decked out in an elaborate candlelit chandelier from Beauty and the Beast (and later on in a cheeseburger. We canNOT make this stuff up!). We’re thinking Ms. Perry was just getting in the zone for her performance later on of Sia’s “Chandelier”.

Actor Billy Porter (Pose) embraced the Camp challenge full-on as well, arriving in full Egyptian glittering gold bodysuit and robe designed by The Blonds, his pharaoh regalia further enhanced as he rode a carpet being held aloft by shirtless gold-adorned attendants. When finally descending to the floor, he unfurled a huge pair of gold wings. Level: up! Porter also revealed that his look was an homage to Diana Ross’s character in Mahogany.

Then there was the sweetly innocent approach of Celine Dion, who confessed that she didn’t really understand this whole “camp” thing, entrusting her fantastic Vegas showgirl ensemble to Oscar de la Renta designers Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim. They of course didn’t let her down, adorning Ms. Dion in a creation inspired by the 1941 movie Ziegfeld Girlstarring camp heroine Judy Garland. The ensemble made of countless strands of silver-gold glass beads took many thousands of man hours to construct, and was expertly paired with a spiky feathered headpiece.

Model Ashley Graham, attending her third Met Gala, put the theme into perspective, “It’s the exaggerated version of myself,” she said of her Dapper Dan for Gucci outfit featuring sparkly leggings, bright green eyeliner and Judith Leiber pursein the shape of a huge, golden retro cellphone. “Big, bold, but still you”, she proclaimed.

The party may be over, but you can still check out True Fashionista Resale both in-store and online for designer camp attire and more, at consignment prices that are but a fraction of the original retail amount!



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Jennifer Johnson