BEST OF MET : DECODING GALA 2019

Come May every year and I have tremendous build up to see the red carpet looks and the execution of the themes every year at the Met Gala. From following the release of the concept from the moment its announced, to the journey of seeing it through, till the memes and the mockery. It seems that one day of the year, people seem to become judges of haute couture for a day to feel inclusive by destructing an event like the MET while personally having a wardrobe that consists of bare fashion minimals (aka jeans and shirt), is all very amusing.

Before I proceed to tell you my favourite picks, let’s talk about what is MET GALA? It seems a lot of people actually don’t know “why people dress the way they do at the MET”.

Cara Delevingne wearing Dior at the Met 2019

Started first in 1948 by publicist Eleanor Lambert, it was a fashion fundraiser that involved the high society of New York and encouraged donations. In modern times, the Costume Institute’s Gala of the Metropolitan Museum of Arts’, is the biggest fashion fundraiser on the planet. It calls upon well known faces from the music, film, fashion and arts realms. And because its for the love of costume, there is a theme every year that leads to a build up amongst brands and invitees, conceptualisation, story boarding, mood, style boarding and beauty boarding and then finally execution of a concept and story telling into a garment and a complete look – from the hair to the shoes. Since 1995, the event has been presided over by Anna Wintour, US Vogue Editor-in-Chief.

Last year the theme was Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. What was the theme this year? This year the exhibition was arranged by Andrew Bolton, curator of the costume institute, around Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay Notes on “Camp”. The beauty of this concept was that it could be construed in various ways. Susan’s writing is reflective and timely of the ongoing political and cultural trend that it would be a resonance of the current times. Susan Sontag’s definition of camp is the “love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration , style at the expense of content ,the triumph of the epicene style”.

In Busby Berkeley movies and in the he-man actor Victor Mature, in Mae West and General de Gaulle, in Swan Lake, Flash Gordon comics, Caravaggio, chinoiserie, and the entirety of the Art Nouveau movement, Susan Sontag found Camp.

“Camp taste has an affinity for certain arts rather than others,” she noted. “Clothes, furniture, all the elements of visual decor, for instance, make up a large part of Camp.” Camp, as Andrew Bolton notes, “has become increasingly more mainstream in its pluralities—political camp, queer camp, Pop camp, the conflation of high and low, the idea that there is no such thing as originality.” Camp, he continues, has been described as style without content.

But I think you’ve got to be incredibly sophisticated to understand camp—look at Yves Saint Laurent and Marc Jacobs,” says Andrew in his interview to Hamish Bolton from Vogue. A 1909 book of Victorian slang explicitly describes camp as “actions and gestures of exaggerated emphasis used chiefly by persons of exceptional want of character.”

Let’s take a look at my top ten favourite looks in the line of the theme of “Camp:Notes on Fashion”.

LADY GAGA

One of the nights host, Lady Gaga had three changes on the red carpet. Couldn’t get more campier than that!

BILLY PORTER

Nailing it and how! Off late I have a new found respect for this man for so beautifully executing gender fluidity on the red carpet and making a statement with fashion. His inspiration was from the movie Cleopatra.

HAILEE STEINFELD

Remember the Viktor & Rolf gowns with memes and quotes? Well – illuminates the concept of camp in its exaggeration!

JANELLE MONÁE

Dress by Christian Siriano and inspired by Picasso!

KARDASHIANS & JENNERS

Kim wearing the “wet look” designed by the man Thierry Muggler himself! One of my personal favourites – exaggerated emphasis on the “wet” element!

GIGI HADID & MICHAEL KORS

Gigi Hadid went for a Cher and Liberace inspired look, wearing Michael Kors’ design!

EZRA MILLER, JARED LETO, DARREN CRISS, HAMISH BOWLES

I am sure you have started understanding the concept and the above looks now!

PRIYANKA CHOPRA JONAS & NICK JONAS

Moving aside the extreme memes and trolls that happened at the expense of Priyanka’s costume at the MET and every second person posting their views and opinions, like Vogue called – you would be disappointed to know that this couple was at their CAMPIEST BEST! What a duet! Priyanka’s team not only interprets camp in its absurdity but translates it with phenomenal prowess on the red carpet, syncing with Nick’s looks at the same time. They were the ultimate CAMP ROYALTY! FYI, Dior dressed them both!

There is a lot of intricate work that is involved at every step of the way, and if you thought passing a critic judgement on a look or calling it “nice” and “not nice”, is why they invested six months of hard work and craftsmanship into it, then you would be probably sad to know that your certification is not what they care about.

Fashion, above all, is not about looking pretty that the media or magazines sell you at large. Fashion is and has always been a form of art- an expression of identity and a liberation of self. Why else do you think it matters to us so much although we would vehemently deny it?

And when it comes to couture fashion – it calls for a different blog post. 😉

Ending on Oscar Wilde’s work of witticism “One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art”—are the essence of camp. 

So what did you take away from this year’s theme?

Probably not to be a MET gala couture comment expert next year is one of them 🙂

Claws come off,

XOXO,

Adhisa Ghosh

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