Genderless fashion is compelling. Genderless fashion on the red carpet? Well, that’s ‘camp’. For the uninitiated, the 2019 Met Gala was themed around this cult, cryptic term. The annual fundraising extravaganza marked the inauguration of ‘Camp: Notes on Fashion’ – the much-awaited exhibition at the MET Costume Institute – and was held on the first Monday of May, chaired by Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue.
Based on the 1964 essay ‘Notes on Camp’ by American writer Susan Sontag, this year’s Met Gala theme offered ample opportunities to subvert sartorial rules, especially the ones concerning gender. A glamourous mockery of the whole ‘girls wear pink and boys wear blue’ sentiment followed and left a few startled gasps in its wake. Here are the names that gender-bended their way to perfection.
If you like the best of both worlds in fashion – feminine and masculine – Michael Urie is your man, and woman. From his hairstyle (gentle waves on one side and a short crew cut on the other) to his footwear (Doc Martens on one foot and pink pumps on the other), the split-gender look was thoughtful and theatrical. As for the outfit, it combined a black pin-striped suit and a bubblegum tulle gown. Half dress, half tuxedo, full camp.
Ezra Miller. If the name is bringing back visions of a man dressed as Hedwig the owl(from Harry Potter) at the UK premiere of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, that’s him. However, the American actor and singer went a little further for his Met Gala appearance. Making an entrance holding a mask resembling his own face, Miller casually revealed his makeup for the night: Trompe l’oeil eyes and a sensational red lip. Not to mention, his pin-striped Burberry suit had a dramatic trail, topped off with a statement rhinestone corset. RIP, black tuxedos.
There’s a reason why most would do a double-take while trying to decipher Zazie Beetz’s Met Gala look. The Atlanta star turned heads in a Thom Browne ensemble, that resembled a harmless black suit from the front, before dissolving into a billowing white wedding dress at the back. Her ankle boots mirrored this dramatic dichotomy, while the delicate veil radiated elegance and androgyny in equal measure.
Who doesn’t love drama? But none more so than Jared Leto. The singer and actor brought the fashion world to its knees waltzing up the steps of the MET in a custom-made scarlet Gucci gown and a bejewelled body chain. Plus, in case you haven’t noticed, the My So-Called Life star recreated the iconic Fall 2018 Gucci runway moment by carrying a hyper-real replica of his own head. Creepy but so camp-y.
‘Camp is the metaphor of life as theatre.’ When Susan Sontag wrote these words in her essay, she might have unknowingly dedicated them to Jordan Roth. The Broadway tycoon and four-time Tony Award-winner embodied ‘performance’ with an intricately printed, elaborate Iris Van Herpen cape that resembled the interiors of an opera. Playing up the effect of optical illusion, this ensemble had an individual known for her craft and a personality known for his camp, come together and create magic. Literally.
Trust Alessandro Michele, Gucci’s creative director and co-chair of this year’s Met Gala, to pull off a head-to-toe pink look on the red carpet. Opting for a ruffled suit and an intricate floral headband, the poster child of non-conforming styling let his flowing locks do the rest of the talking.
On fashion’s biggest night, British singer-songwriter Harry Styles joined the Gucci gang in a lacy, pussy-bow jumpsuit accessorized with shiny black heels. Close-ups of his look also revealed an aquamarine manicure. However, what garnered the most buzz was the single pearl earring shining on his ear, further amping up the ‘pirate princess’ factor.
Recently in the news for flaunting a Christian Siriano tuxedo gown at this year’s Oscars, Billy Porter effortlessly crowned himself the ‘King of Camp’. After an electrifying entrance that was nothing short of a spectacle, Porter spread his gilded wings (literally) as the flashbulbs glared. Glitz, glamour and gold summed up his The Blonds hand-embellished catsuit, topped off with a jaw-dropping 24-karat headpiece. Did we mention this was his Met Gala debut?