Decoding the MET GALA
On May 6, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art hosted the biggest fashion crazy, a fun-loving and entertaining gala to raise funds for MET's Costume Institute.
The Met Gala as it is popularly known as is a fashion exhibit that takes place on the first Monday in May every year for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute.
The annual fashion fundraising charity event was first founded by publicist Eleanor Lambert, in 1948 to encourage donations from New York's high society. The event comes up with wild befuddling and challenging themes every year, which is a celebration of the style from the past, present, and future.
With Gucci being the sponsor for the exhibition this year, the gala night started with the cocktail hour where celebrities walk the red carpet, followed by dinner and the evening's performances.
This year we witnessed the world's most prestigious designers, celebrities and a few lucky billionaires with celebrity hosts Lady Gaga and Harry Styles slaying on stage.
Indian celebrities including Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra, entrepreneur Isha Ambani, and philanthropist Natasha Poonawala were at the event, dressed according to the theme of the annual exhibition, which this year was entitled 'Camp: Notes on Fashion'.
Andrew Bolton, the curator in charge of Met's Costume Institute, orchestrated the exhibition around an idea captured by American writer Susan Sontag in her landmark essay 'Notes on Camp'.
Bolton explained: "It is a theme about a mode, a way of looking at reality, rather than at a place or period of history. It is rather abstract in a way. I think that designing a camp is more challenging than it might appear at first."
He reiterated Sontag's point about the difficulty of defining the word and of explaining the concept and sensibility of camp.
Sontag explains the movement as "contrast between silly or extravagant content".
The camp is a contrast between cheap irony and serious luxury; between incredible skill and tacky delivery.
According to Sontag, the Palace of Versailles is classic Camp: It's gaudy and extravagant, but still the priceless materials! The workmanship! Versailles is too beautifully built to be bad, and too opulently gross to be good. It's neither good nor bad; it's amazing.
In a nutshell, it stands for the exaggerate and elaborate side of fashion. It is to accentuate the authentic with the help of the artificial. Sontag says, "For obvious reasons, the best examples that can be cited are movie stars." She names; Jayne Mansfield, Gina Lollobrigida, Jane Russell, Virginia Mayo, Steve Reeves, Victor Mature, Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, Tallulah Bankhead, and Edwige Feuillière.
The most iconic moments of fashion history that could be described as camp, would be Queen Elizabeth I, starched ruff-farthingale, sumptuous fabrics and white lead paint flaking off her face.
It's the mix of political power, fashion, and intensified beauty and youth. There are many Hollywood icons of the 20th century. Something about Joan Crawford in Baby Jane would be amazing.
Warhol, Nico, anything to do with John Waters and Divine should appear. Diana Ross, Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor all have very distinctive camp styles.
Some of our favourite looks from 2019 Met Gala Kim Kardashian West's Mugler ensemble nodded to Sophia Loren in her wet dress in the movie 'Boy on a Dolphin'.
Meanwhile, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley made Jean Harlow her reference in Oscar de la Renta, Gemma Chan was inspired by Elizabeth Taylor in the 1968 thriller 'Boom!' and Celine Dion took her cue from Judy Garland and the glitzy costumes of the Ziegfeld Follies. Priyanka was ridiculously stunning in her exaggerated dramatic look in an avant-garde Dior Couture silver gown with yellow and pink ruffles, over the top makeup, decorated hands, sequined pantyhose, corset-like top with a draping skirt decorated in feathers, poofy hair and a crown to complete the queen that she is.
Overall, a look so perfect, it's as campy as anyone could have imagined. That's not all, complementing his lady, Nick Jonas wore a dirt white tuxedo with a Casablanca-ish moustache.
He paired his all-white look with diamond jewels and glitter shoes. Priyanka's maximalism and Nick's minimalism struck quite the balance at the red carpet of the Met Gala 2019. Deepika on the other side decided to go rather subtle by opting for a Disney Princess look in a beautiful barbie pink gown put together by Zac Posen.
Good news for celebrity stylists, the Camp theme has tons of interpretations, and many of them are runway smash hits. The most literal Camp example is a Trompe L'Oeil, which means 'Trick of the Eye' in French.
Examples include those Prada bags with illustrated (but not real) buckles, Moschino's necklace-but-not sweatshirt dress, and Gucci's famous "drawn on" capes and bow, along with their infamous Fall 2018 fashion show when models carried replicas of their own heads down the catwalk. Toting your fake face instead of a handbag? Totally Camp.
Channelling the Camp aesthetic is all about embracing one's most Extra self, whether that's through over-the-top glamour, sly societal subversion, or an artful fashion prank.
But while Camp style is fun, bold, and often interactive, it's never nasty, mean-spirited, or disrespectful to other beliefs and identities. Quality also matters when going Camp — remember, it's a long way from Versailles' gilded halls to a cheap golden toilet.