If the fashion world were a high school, the Met Gala would be its prom. Hosted annually by Anna Wintour to raise funds for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it fetes the opening of the Costume Institute’s exhibit. This year’s event theme, “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” is inspired by Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay, “Notes on Camp,” which endeavored to describe and define a cult sensibility and aesthetic. According to Sontag’s 56-point treatise, “camp” is well-summarized by Oscar Wilde’s quote “one should be a work of art, or wear a work of art.”
Take co-host, Lady Gaga’s cinematic four-part entrance to the Met Gala 2019, which started with a flowing fuchsia cloak and ended with her in shimmering undergarments. Janelle Monae also flourished in fuchsia, but she opted for a pop-art inspired gown that mimicked an impressionist face and featured a mechanical blinking eye. Then there was Katy Perry, who took the term “lit” literally and dressed as a chandelier, but eventually changed into a hamburger dress. While each of these looks shows a flair for the dramatic, you don’t have to go all-out-Gaga to capture the feeling of camp. Labels like Versace, Moschino, Marc Jacobs and Prada can help inject elements of camp into your everyday life. Consider us your “camp” counselors. We’ll guide you through its nuances with a selection of ready-to-wear styles.
Go over the rainbow
Bright colors aren’t technically camp, but if they’re on whimsical accessories, like those from Kat Maconie and Sophia Webster, they add unexpected notes to your outfit. Serena Williams served as one of five hosts in a bright yellow floral Versace gown with neon Nike sneakers. The camp was in the clash, there. The vibe of Cara Delevingne‘s whimsical rainbow ensemble with matching platform sandals can be captured by wearing multicolored metallic and tie-dye pieces, like those from Stella McCartney‘s Summer ‘19 collection. Kacey Musgraves’ HOT pink vinyl Moschino dress and and Elle Fanning’s Miu Miu pants set took cues from Barbie’s closet. Kenzo‘s fun pops of color and Moschino’s cartoonish trompe l’oeil pieces from Fall ‘19 offer options to fit this motif in both clothing and accessories.
Take a moment to reflect (or deflect)
Camp is both a reflection on culture and a way to deflect attention from one’s inner self to the outer, so mirrored, metallic, sequined or glittery looks dominated the red carpet. It was all gold everything for Awkwafina, Mindy Kaling and Rita Ora at the MET Gala 2019. If going full gilt isn’t for you, consider a gold bag with a bit of irony, like Marc Jacobs’ “Foil” clutches, pouches and totes. Kelela‘s gown dazzled like a disco ball, and if you’re in the mood to channel a looking glass, try mirrored heels from Dolce & Gabbana or any number of edgy metallic pieces from Balmain.
Ruffle a few feathers
Opulent accents referencing the roaring 20s, vintage Hollywood glamour and 80s excess abounded on the red carpet. Kendall and Kylie Jenner‘s feathered Atelier Versace gowns were equal parts Vegas showgirl and Western madame, but you can pull out the plumes in less ostentatious ways with feathered daytime styles from MSGM. Hailee Steinfeld went full tongue-in-cheek with a picture-worthy ruffled, tiered dress emblazoned with the words “no photos please.” Prada’s preppy ruffled tops won’t attract the paparazzi, but they do have a camp sensibility.
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Nafeesa is the founder and editor of Shoes N Booze, a blog that pairs shoes with cocktails and provides shoe and cocktail-related tips, trend information and reviews. Her writing has also been published in The Source Magazine, xoJane, Sisters from AARP and other publications.