“The hallmark of Camp is the spirit of extravagance.”
Defining exactly what "camp" is, even after reading Susan Sontag’s seminal 1964 essay “Notes on ‘Camp’”, is no easy feat. Extravagance and a “love of the exaggerated” are both referenced in Sontag’s work, which provided the inspiration and theme of this year’s Met Gala, "Camp: Notes on Fashion." The Met Gala is no ordinary red carpet event. While it's often referred to as "the Oscars of the fashion world," it's not an award show, rather an annual fundraising gala for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Attracting the biggest names in entertainment and fashion, it's a night dedicated to frivolity and sartorial decadence.
Last year, the casts of Black Panther, Star Wars and Westworld indulged in some Heavenly ensembles and while Chadwick Boseman sadly couldn't attend the 2019 soirée (due to work reasons), there were plenty of MCU stars on hand, as well as other genre favorites to indulge in this fun and hard to define theme.
Here are some of SYFY WIRE FANGRRLS' highlights from the theatrical night of fashion.
In the past, Ezra Miller has dressed as a Dalek who went to Uniqlo and cosplayed as Hedwig the owl, so it was a safe bet that he would lean in hard with this theme. Lean he did and then some, wearing custom pinstripe Burberry. Miller has already played a superhero in Justice League, but where is the hero wearing a jewel-encrusted corset and cape we deserve? Not only did he serve up camp with his clothes, but the mask and multiple eyes ticked the “theatricalization of experience” box, which Sontag mentions in her essay.
Bookending the red carpet was Zendaya with a Tommy Hilfiger look that drew on her Disney roots. She was accompanied by stylist Law Roach who turned her “drab” Cinderella gown into an illuminated dream, as if by magic. This performative aspect continued when Zendaya lost her glass slipper as she ascended the staircase. It was a big day for the Spider-Man: Far From Home, star as the new trailer revealed some exciting details.
While we're on the subject of Ryan Murphy, he paid tribute to camp icon Liberace in a 100-pound pearl and sequin embroidered cape by Christian Siriano, looking like he could play a version of Dracula on a future AHS season. Not to be outdone, regular Murphy collaborator Darren Criss went back to the artificial roots of camp with a custom Balmain take on the harlequin jacket. The exaggerated makeup showed Criss’ dedication to theme.
Sarah Paulson is known for going big on the red carpet so this big bowed Moschino gown felt a little on the demure side, but the champagne bag played on the art nouveau aspect, which is intrinsic to Sontag’s discussion of camp.
Also on that list are old Flash Gordon comics, which sadly no one took notice of, but Gemma Chan’s silver custom Tom Ford is otherworldly (inspired by the Elizabeth Taylor movie Boom). She has been a standout on the red carpet this season, from Captain Marvel premieres to the Oscars.
Have we found Valkyrie's leading lady look? A riding crop coupled with those boots and a hair that doubles a whip ensured Tessa Thompson was taking theatricality to the next level in corseted Chanel.
If they ever do an I Dream of Jeannie reboot, then Elle Fanning in this super retro Miu Miu winged two-piece is making her case to be the lead.
Florence Welch has one song play over the Game of Thrones credits and she served up a look that suggested Iron Throne combined with Targaryen attire (but make it camp). Both Welch and Saoirse Ronan were in Gucci and the Mother of Dragons vibes were strong. Another pair might be coming for that Seven Kingdoms crown.
Speaking of Game of Thrones, Sophie Turner’s geometric ‘80s Louis Vuitton definitely avoided any Winterfell comparisons. However, her hair and makeup had a touch of the Night King.
Team Riverdale went little fairy tale camp with a dash of Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella on the menu. What's really good about this particular theme is that no matter how you interpret camp, if you make an effort to go big then you are already half the way there — much like the actual show Riverdale. Half the fun is in the swings they make.
Sontag recognizes how important queer culture is to the sensibility of camp, which was reflected in former Suicide Squad villain Cara Delevingne's Pride-inspired Dior rainbow sensation. “Camp is generous. It wants to enjoy” and this entire ensemble from plastic headwear to stacked rainbow platforms is doing just that.
Hailee Steinfeld also got this playful memo as she camped it up in a statement tulle Viktor & Rolf Haute Couture gown complete with a camera accessory.
For a strong sci-fi aesthetic, Janelle Monáe’s Christian Siriano ensemble had a blinking eye. This is high camp at its finest.
Artifice and excess both featured heavily on this carpet, including Jared Leto walking around with a lifelike version of his own head. Leto often does the most (see every Suicide Squad behind-the-scenes story) so he was born to excel at this theme. The Gucci severed heads first appeared on fall 2018 runway, which played on science-fiction elements (including dragon babies) and once again showed that fashion and genre are entwined.