GRAPHIC BY CAROL LI
By COLLEEN GAPUZAN
The theme was camp, not zoo.
On May 6th, the 2019 Met Gala was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Throughout the night, actors, musicians, influencers and industry paragons alike strode down the pink carpet in the biggest event on the fashion fundraising calendar.
To put in perspective, the benefit was first held in 1948 to encourage donations from the high society of New York, founded by publicist Eleanor Lambert. Iconic faces from the realms of art, music, sports, film and fashion come together in their modern incarnation to raise money for the Met’s Costume Institute and celebrate the grand opening of their latest exhibition.
Every year, the gala revolves around the theme of the new exhibition, respectively. For the Met Gala 2019, co-chairs Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, Serena Williams and Alessandro Michele hosted an evening honoring pieces from the most elaborate to the most elegant under the theme Camp: Notes on Fashion.
Subsequently, curator in charge of the Costume Institute, Andrew Bolton, based off this year’s theme from American writer Susan Sontag’s seminal 1964 essay Notes on “Camp,” which ultimately emphasizes extravagant, boundary-breaking ensembles in artlessly mannered fashion.
Although many celebrities were able to uniquely capture the essence of camp culture, others fell short and proved they might have been better off not attending instead.
As one of the night’s co-chairs along with Lady Gaga and Serena Williams, Harry Styles’ hand-selected ensemble seemed to disappoint fans, which made its way to the Met’s most boring looks of the night. Styles proceeded down the pink carpet with an all-black Gucci jumpsuit with a ruffled top and matching slacks, missing the mark in what critics are calling “too conservative for camp.” Regardless of his attempt to disregard the expected, standard masculinity, and instead promote a more eccentric aura which uniquely expressed his individuality, the whole outfit overall unfortunately was the pinnacle of both safe and sorry.
Speaking of ensembles that did not need a second glance, the “playing it safe” trend ultimately continued throughout the night. For instance, celebrity couple Kim Kardashian and Kanye West seemed to lack knowledge of this year’s theme, strutting down the pink carpet in a brown body-tight dress and a tracksuit. Considering that Kim’s dress took “eight months in the making,” you would think that she would make sure her piece was on theme. On the other hand, if her husband’s outfit seemed like something he had picked up a half- an-hour at Nike prior, it’s safe to say that the couple was more focused on the event itself, rather than making a true statement.
Moreover, music artists such as Frank Ocean and Shawn Mendes were also highly criticized on their fashion choices. Arriving at the Met in a plain, all-black Prada hoodie and slacks, fans were left wondering if the ironic contrarian attended as a guest, or was hired as one of the gala’s official security guards. In addition, proceeding with the supremely boring all-black look, singer Shawn Mendes walked down the carpet wearing a simple Saint Laurent suit with black piping and minor flourishes for uniqueness. Despite the musician’s attempt to entertain the camp culture, all he managed to entertain was that he clearly was just another Hollywood male attendee—not from the fashion world.
Aside from Hollywood’s elite, many popular influencers such as beauty guru James Charles were given the opportunity to take part in fashion’s biggest night. However, when graciously invited to such a prestigious event, one must be responsible for not only their appearance in terms of fashion, but through their character. Immediately, Charles not only received an immense amount of criticism for his “Coachella Weekend 3” ensemble—a see-through top made out of safety pins with black satin Alexander Wang cargo-type pants—but on what he had to say about the event, which ultimately struck a contentious conversation on social media. Many were enraged that he had posted saying that he was a catalyst for “influencer representation,” and was accused of comparing privileged influencers to marginalized groups to fight for representation in their respective field. Regardless, if the YouTuber decided to create mass controversy, he could at least do us all a favor and follow the Met theme instead of showing up for a music festival three weeks late.
Despite the various mixed opinions on this year’s gala, a numerous amount of celebrities undoubtedly stole the night, and thankfully saved it.
For the most magical night in fashion, actress Zendaya utterly spoke it into existence. To start off, the star arrived in a stunning blue and black corseted Tommy Hilfiger ballgown, thanks to her stylist Law Roach, who accompanied Zendaya as her “fairy godstylist,” making the dress illuminate with a wave of a wand. In addition to the lights, special effects including smoke added to the dramatic entrance, creating one of the most iconic moments of the night. For the grand finale, the actress made her way up the Met stairs “accidentally” leaving one of her glass slippers, then proceeded to change into a pink dress once inside, alluding to princess Cinderella’s story. From her camp-worthy dress to the attention to detail to her dedication in playing such an iconic role, Zendaya truly went above and beyond and undeniably made Met Gala history.
All in all, “fashion’s biggest night out” 2019 proved to be one of the most diverse, with an array of iconic style that—camp-worthy or not—are indubitably, memorable.
To all the un-camp celebrities who unfortunately missed the mark, hopefully you all took notes in preparation for next year.
If not, please just stay home.