Wednesday 21 August 2019

Turning up the camp

The stars pulled out all the stops for this year's Met Gala, writes Meadhbh McGrath

Lady Gaga attends The 2019 Met Gala Celebrating Camp. Photo: Getty
Lady Gaga attends The 2019 Met Gala Celebrating Camp. Photo: Getty
Kim Kardashian West. Photo: Getty
Celine Dion. Photo: Getty
Joan Collins. Photo: Getty
Jennifer Lopez. Photo: Getty
Ezra Miller. Photo: Getty
Zendaya. Photo: Getty

Meadhbh McGrath

This year's Met Gala theme issued guests with a challenge: how would the A-list interpret the intellectual concept of "camp"? In 1964, Susan Sontag devoted an essay to the notoriously slippery, hard-to-define term, in which she describes it as an aesthetic "sensibility", citing Tiffany lamps, Mae West and the Enquirer as canon. It is this essay that forms the basis of the Met's exhibition and sets the dress code for the Gala.

"Camp is an expression of your most outrageous," said Cara Delevingne, wrapped in ribbons and wielding a rainbow glitter cane. Celine Dion, a camp icon in full Vegas glitz, confessed to not knowing what the theme meant - in itself a fabulous instance of camp.

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Then there were those who went beyond the outfit to offer a capital-M moment: Lady Gaga set the bar high with an elaborate performance, unveiling four looks in 15 mins, aided by five dancers and collaborator Brandon Maxwell, bearing a tool belt equipped with golden scissors and mini lint-roller.

Billy Porter drew inspiration from Elizabeth Taylor's Cleopatra for his own dazzling entrance. Resplendent in gold atop a litter, the Pose star was carried by six hunky courtiers before spreading spectacular 10-foot wings.

Ezra Miller, in Burberry pinstripes with crystal corset, sported multiple sets of eyes while carrying a mask of his own visage, while Tracee Ellis Ross flouted Anna Wintour's selfie ban by turning herself into a self-portrait with an ornate gold frame by Jeremy Scott. Scott outdid himself with his design for country singer Kacey Musgraves. Forget the limos - only a hot pink Corvette would do to complement her flawlessly rendered Barbie drag.

Zendaya delivered a Cinderella moment, as her stylist Law Roach lit up her gown with a wave of his dry-ice wand. To add to the effect, she left behind a "glass" slipper on the stairs.

Kim Kardashian dressed as her own damp US Vogue cover in a custom piece by Thierry Mugler, who reportedly came out of retirement to design it. The Kardashians' very existence is camp, and none more so than momager Kris Jenner. Sontag writes that "the pure examples of camp are unintentional," and one need only look to Kris' earnest froufrou for confirmation.

But the winner of the night was Joan Collins - or, should we say, Alexis Morell Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan. The British dame dressed as her legendary Dynasty character in feathered Valentino, drenched in diamonds and complete with sparkling tiara. This is how you bring camp to life.

Irish Independent

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