In 1948 the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City needed a way to raise funds for their newly-organized Costume Institute. They hit upon the idea of holding a gala with the proceeds from ticket sales going to the institute. It would also serve as the opening for the fashion exhibit of said institution. This was the first Costume Institute Gala, or as it was later known in later years, the Met Gala. Each gala since the 1970s has followed a general fashion theme. For this year, the operative word was “Camp.” This opened the door for potential spectacles.
But as The New Yorker tells it, not many of the high-profile celebrity attendees of the 2019 Met Gala this Monday, May 6, decided to hew to the given theme. As stated, the watchword was “camp,” which can be defined as the aesthetic design of being simultaneously in bad taste and appealing. But the efforts of some of the guests in dressing boldly and irreverently lead some observers to question if they were even trying seriously. The gala this year is co-chaired by the triumvirate of Serena Williams, Harry Styles and Lady Gaga. Their respective approach to the camp theme was varied, and varyingly successful.
Both Lady Gaga and Styles wore black. The former made several costume changes throughout the night, and posed on all fours climbing up the Met’s entry stairway. The former One Direction member meanwhile was more subdued, despite wearing a jumpsuit with see-through top revealing his tattoos. The contrasts between those who tried to be camp and those who were not are rather telling. Cardi B was resplendent in a red dress with long train. Jared Leto was in a red dress too and carried a decapitated head that looked like his face. And these are merely the beginning in the quest for Met Gala campiness.
For an example on the failure of getting the right amount of camp for the theme, look no further than the couple of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Both were as different as night and day in dress, but both cannot be described as campy. Kim’s dress was conventionally daring while Kanye’s tracksuit seemed to indicate he cared not one bit about following the theme. The jacket reportedly cost him just about $40. All in all, it was a hit and miss affair for many in trying to be camp at the 2019 Met Gala.
But at the end of the extravaganza, who cares? TMZ has it that the Metropolitan Museum of Art made a killing for the Costume Institute this year. Ticket sales amounted to $15 million, up from the $13 million of 2018. Success in pulling off camp aside, the Met Gala made good for charity this year.
Images courtesy of Evening Standard, Vanity Fair, Time and Fashionista