The Met Gala is like the Olympics for the celebs, models and other unnaturally attractive, fashion-y people who attend it. They prepare for months, undergoing grueling beauty treatments and working with their stylists in order to go for the gold at the main event: the red carpet.
But the starlets can’t just turn up in any pretty party dress; they have to abide by the theme. You know, “Manus x Machina” in 2016, for which Taylor Swift showed up in Louis Vuitton armor; or "Punk: Chaos to Couture," when we got Miley Cyrus rocking a fishnet dress with a spiky ’do to match. And who could forget “Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the 18th Century,” when supermodel Amber Valletta showed up as Marie Antoinette (casual)? The theme, in case you were wondering, is selected by Andrew Bolton, the Costume Institute’s chief curator, and then approved by top brass at the museum, including Anna Wintour.
The sartorial stakes are even higher in 2019 thanks to this year’s theme, “Camp: Notes on Fashion.” If you’re confused about this one, well, same. But it helps to think about it in the context of Susan Sontag’s totally worth-a-read 1964 essay, Notes on “Camp.”
“The essence of Camp is its love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration,” Sontag surmised in the bulleted piece. She noted that the theory can be traced back to the French court under Louis XIV but also called out that camp is more than just extravagance or over-the-top flair. In fact, there’s usually a cultural identity or social code in play. Think John Waters’s Pink Flamingos. Or Tim Curry in pearls in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Sontag’s most salient observation: “The whole point of Camp is to dethrone the serious. Camp is playful, anti-serious.”