A theme so complex it has left celebrities and their stylists clueless as to how to dress...
The Met Gala is just six hours away, and if like us, you've spent the past 365 days furiously debating what top celebrities will be attendence and more importantly, what they will be wearing, then bad news, not even celebrities nor their stylists know how to unpack this year's theme.
With a theme like Camp: Notes on Fashion, tonight's red carpet is the Met Gala's most complex making predictions a near impossible task. Much like beauty, camp is also often in the eye of the beholder. It's hard to intentionally be camp, and sometimes the best example of camp didn't set out to be camp at all. Susan Sontag's famous essay "Notes on Camp" offers some pointers on the concept, but even she admited that camp is hard to define. It's a sensibility, not a concrete idea.
Despite the 58 meticulously listed bullet points that define camp, perhaps the best way to truly describe camp is through examples, not words. And on that note, here are some of the campiest red carpet looks of all time.
Björk at the 73rd Academy Awards
Camp is playful. It's a "mode of enjoyment", not judgement. When Björk arrived to the 73rd Academy Awards in a gown meant to resemble a swan, it was camp at it's purest. While to some, the dress designed by Marjan Pejoski was met with 'what on earth is she wearing?', to camp, this outfit was so bizzare and perfect that it couldn't be met with anything other than pure appreciation.
Lady Gaga on German television
Lady Gaga, who just so happens to be co-charing tonight's gala, is arguably the most famous flag bearer for camp today. From her Jean-Charles de Castelbajac Kermit the Frog coat to the her infamous meat dress to that time she arrived at the Grammys in 2011 in a giant Husseuin Chalayan egg complete with an egg pod squad, Gaga treats camp with the utmost seriousness which is the perfect expression of Sontag's concept.
John Galliono AW'03
Choose any of John Galliano's shows under his own label or for Dior and there's one predominant theme: Camp. For his AW'03 show, it was all about supersized brows which were thick, bold, stuck on and inspired by Joan Crawford. Complementing this with oversized beauty spots, a boatload of blush and drag-inspired lips, there's a relish for exaggeration of sexual characteristics and personality mannerism which perfectly embodies camp.
Grace Jones at the 1983 Grammy Awards
While Lady Gaga is rightfully co-chairing the gala tonight, there is however one pop star that has been succesfully featuring camp in their public image with the help of outré fashion. Cue Grace Jones and everything she does.
Aquaria, Season 10 Runway
No roundup of recent camp fashion would be complete without a nod to RuPaul's Drag Race, a show that runs so heavely on the very theme of camp that not even Sontag herself could have ever imagined. From the various runway themes, finale looks and red carpet appearances, Aquaria's Best of Both World's runway look from season ten incorporates perfectly every one of the 58 Notes On Camp.
Elton John at his 50th Birthday Party
The Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit will draw comparisons from the over-the-top stylings of Louis XIV of France but we think taking a look back at Elton John dressing up as Louis XIV for 50th birthday party would be the best place to start.
Dolly Parton, always
“All Camp objects, and persons, contain a large element of artifice. Nothing in nature can be campy.” Need we say more?
Sontag summed camp up as "a woman walking around in a dress made of three million feathers" and in 2019, camp appears on one's face. A collection full of romantic femininity was accompanied by enchanting beauty looks as models walked the SS'19 Valentino runway with eyes framed by feathers courtesy of Pat McGrath.
Billy Porter at the 91st Academy Awards
Lady Gaga, Elton John and RuPaul's Drag Race aside, Billy Porter has mastered the very idea of camp and if every male guest in attendance tonight didn't reach out to Billy for advice, may they fail at their own risk.
Rihanna at the 2018 Met Gala
In celebration of last year’s exhibition, “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” Rihanna wore a custom Maison Margiela dress, cape, and hat modeled on traditional papal garb. It was irreverent, glamorous, derivative, and over-the-top: all things fashion camp.
While the Met Gala is often referred to as the Oscars of fashion, sadly that's where the comparisons end as the benefit is not televised so you'll have to keep an eye on irishtatler.com and our Instagram account for all the looks from the Met Gala 2019.