Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Fashion Review: Met Gala 2019

Dropping in to drop opinions about the Met Gala, as I'm wont to do. If you're new around here, these are the ground rules for deciding who I feel was best dressed and worst dressed at the Met Gala:
  1. Have fun with the theme. 
  2. Don't be boring.
  3. Don't prioritize being sexy over the theme. 
  4. Fashion is art. Don't forget it.
This year, the theme was "camp," an easily misunderstood but delightful concept (helpfully explored here). I wanted to see audacity, humor, excess, theatricality, panache, parody and — god help me — nothing I would see at any other fashion event of the year. I don't want to see an ensemble that would work equally well at the Grammy's or the Oscars or even the VMAs.

Here's what I did want to see: 1920's Erte-inspired, 1930's Schiaparelli-inspired, 1970's Elton John, Little Edie Bouvier, the "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead" fashion show finale, Phyllis Neffler's fundraiser outfit from "Troop Beverly Hills," the bodysuit and flip wig from the "Groove is in the Heart" video, Macy Gray's album drop Grammy's gown or Jane Fonda's outfits from "Barbarella." CAMP. 

So, let's see how our faves fared, shall we?


Billy Porter killed it dead and now we're all just haunted by the memory of this epic entrance equally fit for Cleopatra and a night at Studio 54. It was like a moving Stefon description of the event: "It had everything! Bodysuits! Chainmail! Shirtless transportation!"

But there was extremely stiff competition for best entrance, because Lady Gaga performed no less than FOUR costume changes on the actual pink carpet, concluding by wheeling in a wagon full of hats and champagne. This was her moment to shine and she knew it. A reporter asked Anna Wintour how anyone could follow that and she said, "They should all go home."

Cardi B is a relative newcomer to the high fashion scene, but immediately came out swinging. She wore this tufted and feathered and sequined Thom Browne gown with such panache. It looks like a throbbing heart.

The exhibition on camp fashion explores its origins in the 19th-century dandy style and in gender-bending, and Ezra Miller embodied both perfectly with this surrealist look by Burberry. It felt like a portrait of Marlene Dietrich if designed by Salvador Dali. That makeup job should win awards.

Does it get better than Janelle Monae in a Christian Siriano gown that actually WINKS? This madcap look was also surrealist in the highest order and she had such theatrical flair, never once breaking character to laugh at the humor of her blinking boob.

Jordan Roth, who oversees five theaters, brought the theater to the pink carpet quite literally in this Iris Van Herpen cape that, when opened, revealed a stage. So apt! So fun!

Kacey Musgraves served up hot pink Barbie perfection, complete with a hairdryer purse and tiny cat eye sunglasses. Paris Hilton WISHES.

Meanwhile, Elle Fanning channeled Malibu Barbie in her peachy orange Miu Miu and long, long nails. She looked like she was having so much fun all night.

Every year I feel like Katy Perry is trying too hard and finally, her natural inclinations were completely on target! She did full Lumiere cosplay in a Jeremy Scott chandelier and later, in a now-iconic hamburger outfit. The only way it could have been better is if she came in a couture version of the Left Shark.


Broadway actor (and former Ugly Betty co-star) Michael Urie also pulled off an amazing optical illusion in this Christian Siriano split identity ensemble that's fit for Victor/Victoria. The make-up and hair are AMAZING and the dress itself is lovely. I feel like Christian Siriano's team and Jeremy Scott's team were having more fun than anyone.

Celine Dion had a pretty normal Monday in this fringed, sequined spectacular swingy thing. It perfectly hearkens back to the theatricality of 1920's performers and she presents it as though she's water appearing like a mirage to the thirsty masses.

Nothing could be more perfect than Bette Midler and her daughter, Sophie, also having a pretty normal fashion day. Bette is the queen of camp and I am so glad she was on the guest list.

Lena Waithe let the world know her truth: "Black drag queens inventend camp" in a stylish pinstriped Pyer Moss suit packed with storytelling details. The stripes were lyrics from gay anthems and the buttons showed famous LGBTQ icons. The suit was an appropriate statement on the exhibition's failure to fully explore the black community's contribution to camp, especially the LGBTQ community. Read more here.

And then there's Diane Von Furstenburg, who came as her own muse, dressed as the Statue of Liberty wearing a print of her own portrait by Warhol. ICONIC. I would honestly do the exact same thing.

Tracee Ellis Ross played to the theme AND the location, framing herself as a work of art. She has the perfect personality to sell a concept like this Moschino dress.

Drag star Violet Chachki wore a Jeremy Scott gown that left a handprint wherever it went. The train is perfect.

Never ever count Lupita out. Girl is such a fashion all-star and never shies away from a theme, and as fun as her technicolor rainbow ensemble is, it's the combs in her hair, which have tiny black power fists, that perfectly celebrate the black contribution to camp culture.

Dua Lipa looked like a Lisa Frank character with dramatic Talitha Getty vibes in her voluminous  ensemble. More is more is more!

Lily Collins also took a page from the same playbook with hair that climbed to the ceiling, looking just like Priscilla Presley on her wedding day -- the height of camp!

Ciara channeled all the icons that came before her in this sexy Versace gown and hair down to there. I have to imagine Diana Ross was somewhere clapping when she saw this.

Hailee Steinfeld donned a Viktor & Rolf gown that demanded attention while shirking it at the same time, perfectly accessorized with a wink and a camera.

Gigi Hadid came closest to satisfying my Elton John wishes and dreams in this Michael Kors, taking it further into almost alien territory. I appreciated that, unlike many other models, she opted to play more with fashion and didn't worry as much about looking conventionally beautiful.

Daenarys who? Saoirse Ronan looked like the true dragon queen in this Gucci gown. I do feel like she is letting the gown do all the work and could have had even more fun with the styling, but I appreciate the effort.

Someone had to pull out all the Liberace stops, and Ryan Murphy was that someone. He looks like conductor of an undersea orchestra, and I mean that in a good way.

I'm a sucker for a Cinderella reference and although I thought this gown was a little reminiscent of Claire Danes' similarly illuminated gown from just a few years ago, I still loved it. Zendaya approached the pink carpet with a fun irreverence, even carrying a pumpkin carriage purse, and having a Fairy Godmother transform the dress with a magic wand.


My first inclination was that this feels like a normal day of J. Lo fashion, BUT it occurred to me she's almost doing performative J. Lo (especially with this booty pop) and I can't resist an oversized paillette sequin moment or beaded wig or gigantic Harry Winston purple diamond.

Aquaria also gave us a white wig moment, paired with tattered black satin. Am I crazy for wanting even more from this look? Still, the shoes are fantastic, like a bad ballerina.

Donatella Versace paid tribute to the OG queen of camp, Divine, in her acid green gown paired with hair to match.

Cara Delevingne was like a human version of one of artist Nick Cave's soundsuits in her candy-striped rainbow ensemble and headdress with bananas, hands and chattering teeth. I like that she went there, but it's almost more wacky than campy to me and had me thinking deep thoughts about what qualifies as camp for camp's sake. Good for her, though.

RuPaul is an icon of camp and arguably the single biggest reason drag culture has become fairly mainstream, and yet....I think I expected more? This feels relatively staid for RuPaul. Don't get me wrong, it's a Fruit Stripes sequined zebra suit with feathers and a gigantic bow tie -- it's camp. But I was a little surprised it wasn't more on par with Billy Porter for drama.

Listen, I know for Kylie and Kendall this felt like a real stretch. If you've ever kept up with a Kardashian, you know they only dress for one theme and it's sex. They paired two colors seen together rarely outside Dumb and Dumber and, if we're honest, we'd love it in any drag revue. Ultimately this just brushes with the theme, in my opinion, but they tried harder than others.

Truly, what's campier than glitzy stars and stripes? If ever there were a time to lean in on the Hilfiger vibe, this was it, so good on 'em.

Gwen Stefani basically came as Madonna (who I'm guessing rolled her eyes somewhere) and although it's ostensibly campy, this ensemble looks pretty run-of-the-mill for Gwen. I do really love the way the sequins are inlaid into the fur train, so kudos to designer Jeremy Scott.

Model Abbey Lee Kershaw donned a gown by Thom Browne fit for a mermaid bride and really sold the whole look. Mermaids remind me of Cher and Cher is a camp queen, so by the transitive property, this is Camp.

Part of me feels like this winged ice princess cape by Gucci on Florence Welch is a pretty normal look for her, but it is conveying the level of camp we'd expect from a glam performer like Elton John or David Bowie. The detail is spectacular.

Ashley Graham turned up in this homage to the camp side of hip hop fashion, a Gucci collaboration with the one and only Dapper Dan of Harlem. Not shown is her spectacular long braid full of bejeweled barrettes.

Lizzo was a vision in pink Marc Jacobs — equal parts Queen of Versaille and Queen of the Disco. It reminded me of an old Hollywood musical I watched as a kid, "Du Barry was a Lady," and after doing that Google search, I know that would have been MY camp inspiration.

Nicki Minaj had the dramatic volume in this Prabal Gurung gown, but for someone with such a rich history of campy looks, this felt a little tame to me. Add a pink Marie Antoinette wig and maybe I'd feel the camp more.

Rachel Brosnahan's ruffled and bowed Erdem gown is in the same situation — the dress is close to camp, but the styling is safe as can be. Imagine with the gigantic bouffant of Tracy Turblad in Hairspray, or a Rapunzel braid or something else to make this feel a step beyond something she'd wear to the SAG awards.

Regina Hall's bumblebee gown was a nice middle ground between a little eensy bit campy and still in her comfort zone. On a night when a lot of people seemed to think hair dye was synonymous with camp, Regina's hair was the most complementary to the look.

The exhibition features a giant pink bow dress, so Elizabeth Debicki's dramatic bow fits the theme while still looking stylish enough for Audrey Hepburn. It makes a statement, but doesn't feel inorganic to her style.

Gemma Chan is becoming a reliable fashion slayer in my mind, and this beautifully sleek Tom Ford gown with a headpiece fit for a night at the Folies Bergere is on theme, while still fitting neatly in her normal style wheelhouse.

Laverne Cox looks like a glamorous smoke monster in this ruffled Christian Siriano paired with light teal hair. It's an exaggerated, almost Disney villain style, and I'm here for that vibe.

I didn't even recognize Natasha Lyonne immediately, a vision in a New Wave jumpsuit. It's not earth-shattering but it's fun and interesting.

Tessa Thompson's Chanel look is a victory for accessorizing. Without the riding crop and alien-like platforms, this would be flirting with boring. Instead, she's channeling an S&M French maid.

Harry Styles looked great, but let's be honest: a sheer shirt and a platform shoe doesn't feel like that much of a stretch. I admire his confidence, however, and his later looks in the evening played daringly with proportions. 

Next Level WHAT?

We asked for camp and we asked for drama and Jared Leto was tickled to deliver. Fashion fans recognized immediately that he was recreating the meme-worthy Gucci runway show that had models toting fake versions of their own heads. But the real fun is reserved for those who were completely unfamiliar and saw this and were like "what. the. hell?!" Camp in the highest order!

One aspect of camp is valuing humor over conventional loveliness, and besties Jemima Kirke and Lena Dunham exemplified that in their Christopher Kane "fetishest" dresses identifying as women obsessed with balloons and rubber.

You have to help me decide: is an aggressive crotch considered "camp"? Amber Valletta seems to think so, especially when paired with a neon green pelt, but I'm not entirely convinced.

Frank Ocean dressed as a valet attendant or a golf caddy in a Prada windbreaker and it's so, so snoozy that it actually felt shocking. But it's aggressively normcore, and can that be considered camp? I don't love it, but it did make me think. 


Kim is as Kim does and the only theme she's interested in is showing off her curves. Her Thierry Mugler "wet" dress looks a bit like a self tanner accident, and certainly shows off an unreal hourglass figure. I don't think, on the face of it, that it's camp but I do think her mere existence is camp, so....does that mean no matter what she does, she is camp? She essentially has co-opted and mainstreamed drag makeup techniques and her life is a spectacle, so maybe the ultimate camp is to come as herself?

Emily Ratajkowski wears some version of this Cher homage every day, minus the winged headpiece. This feels phoned-in to me.

Constance Wu's Marchesa gown, on any other day, would be my favorite. It hits all my buttons: pearls, sparkles, tulle, a vampy lip. And yet, it felt deeply meh for the theme. I could easily see her wearing this at Cannes, the Oscars, the Grammy's or a movie premiere.

A host of stylish women wore really pretty gold gowns that did not strike me as particularly on-theme or unique. They include Emily Blunt....

Mindy Kaling (who I guess figures going blonde constitutes camp) ....

Awkwafina, in a gown I think she could wear any day...

and Salma Hayek, who is married to the head of several major luxury brands and yet always looks a little ho-hum.

Gal Gadot looks interesting in this Givenchy ensemble, but it feels a year late for the "Heavenly Bodies" theme. She looks like an avenging angel.

I really am struggling to muster any feelings about this band aid-colored Tory Burch skirt on Kerry Washington. It's embroidered with Burch's mantra, "Negativity is Noise," which sounds exactly like what someone would post on Facebook when they announce they're "taking a break from social media." Insert eye roll.

At your cousin's wedding, Huma Abedin's Oscar de la Renta would qualify as the edgiest and kookiest ensemble to hit the dance floor. But at the camp-themed Met Gala, it just felt like a pop of color that was relatively simple. It's appropriate for her, though.

We've seen many, many variations on the fluffy tulle frock from Giambattista Valli over the past couple years, from Kacey Musgraves at the Grammy's to Rihanna at...well, the Grammy's. So although I always think it's a lovely look, it doesn't feel particularly fresh or campy on Emma Roberts.

Is it camp? Ehhhhhhhh, I don't know. I'm not sure ruffles, sequins and a bold color qualify as camp when this feels like something I've seen her wear already. But Julianne Moore certainly looks lovely in acid green!

Katie Holmes also had vaguely Disney villain vibes in this winged Zac Posen. Zac is a master of construction and although I didn't think this was particularly campy, I did have to call it out for the impeccable pleating and ruching.

I think Lucy Boynton's stylist probably thought dying her hair to match the trim on her gown would convince me this was camp. That stylist was wrong.

This Kris Jenner outfit 100% looks like an ensemble that would be worn by Jenna Maroney on a 30 Rock episode themed around Jenna being asked to perform for the USO and being convinced she was asked to perform for a UFO. (And that's now an episode I want to watch.) Yawn.

Newlyweds Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas were matchy-matchy in these printed outfits that look like a Windows start up menu. I appreciate it isn't totally boring, but it's also pretty forgettable.

I can't decide if Darren Criss is doing an admirable job here of being campy with his makeup and his big bow and his sequins, or if it's pretty boring. It feels like a regular Wednesday for a club kid.

Yara Shahidi's look feels so somber for something that looks so forced-kooky. I couldn't drum up any real feelings about this one, except that I'd like her to take her red carpet styles to the next level. She's proven she has out-of-the-box taste, but it never quite lands for me.

Sarah Paulson is never one to play it safe, and yet here we are, in a relatively normal-for-her black bow. It's fine. It's not the worst, but it's not even her best. She could easily be at the opening of the ballet season at Lincoln Center.

Solange looked fantastic in her right-on-trend snakeskin ensemble. But again, this seems like something she'd wear on a normal Saturday night, not to a camp-themed Met Gala. She's usually WAY more dramatic than this, so this felt out of step.

Carey Mulligan's Prada gown was pulled right off the runway and it looks like it. Just wholly unremarkable for the theme of the event, and it feels like a big combo of ideas slapped together out of boredom.

I'm sure Chloe Grace Moretz thought her hot pink lip would really carry her through, but this is excessively boring.

The Olsen twins came as a little mini coven of their own, and it's more interesting than I would have expected, but then again, what could have been MORE camp than for them to shock all of us to our core and show up in these outfits:

If only.

F on this Assignment

Karlie Kloss and new husband Jared Kushner's brother dressed as though they were going to a friend's engagement party at the country club. Her gold mini doesn't even look particularly well-made and is not even trying remotely to dress to theme.

Halsey thinks that a not very good wig + lots of gold bangles is enough to be campy, but I've never seen anything campier than her SNL performance when she writhed on the floor painting a self-portrait while wearing overalls. She should have legit worn that.

Gwyneth!! What is this BS? This lovely, sunshiny nightgown is more Virgin Suicides than camp, and felt very lazy to me.

Hailey Bieber's interpretation of camp boiled down to a bejeweled thong and a bow in her hair. These PYT's are always try to make the theme fit their sexy agenda, rather than the other way around, and I find it deeply boring.

Emma Stone wore a sparkly jumpsuit with 80's hair and makeup, a.k.a exactly how the popular girl in your high school would interpret camp. The whole thing is very blah and could easily be worn to the VMA's or freaking Kids' Choice Awards.

Demi Moore honestly should be furious with the Saint Laurent team for this laziness. A tuxedo dress? For the Met Gala? For a CAMP-THEMED Met Gala? It's rude.

I saw a few people put Miley Cyrus on their best-dressed list and on any other night, I'd love this, but I was very disappointed. It's very tame by anyone's standards, but this is a girl who for many years embodied camp. I would have been delighted to see her dunk on herself and show up as Hannah Montana in the nude latex bikini from her VMA hosting stint. Have her show up in full cowgirl regalia to hype her dad's role in the success of "Old Town Road." Have her borrow something from actual godmother Dolly Parton's closet. Anything more interesting than this.

Penelope Cruz wore a Chanel gown that I feel almost certain she's worn previously and is so her norm that I wondered if it just came from her own closet. Why even attend if you aren't going to have fun with it?

Rita Ora and Kate Moss, especially, look lovely in their sparkly disco gowns by Marc Jacobs. But, again, I could envision them wearing these looks to any event of any theme.

Zoe Kravitz continually shows up to events in outfits designed to make me think about her breasts, which is fine, but not very interesting. This Saint Laurent gown frames her underboob in a heart, but we all know nothing can make us love underboob. Her father has worn approximately a million more campy things than this, and she could have learned a thing or two from him.

I love Maggie Rogers and the other shots I saw of this dress were prettier, but ultimately this looks like old dirty bedsheets trying to metamorphosize into a disco gown and getting stuck mid-transition.

What is this outfit? Who is Sofia Sanchez? Why does her outfit make me want to watch an episode of Magic School Bus where Miss Frizzle takes students to Mars and ends up being a bridesmaid in a Martian wedding? Even with that truly bonkers made-up storyline, this is boring.

This Rami Malek won an Oscar for playing Freddie Mercury and showed up in this boring-ass bullshit.


This Taron Edgerton is playing Elton John in a fantastical biopic AND wore the best suits I've ever seen in The Kingsman and turned up in this nothingness with a shoestring tie.


This Shawn Mendes boy looks freaking normal!!!!! Huge faillllllllll.

And last but not least, Trevor Noah thought it would be sooooooooooo funny to wear an ironic T-shirt that makes fun of the frivolity of fashion at the fashion industry's biggest night. It is, in fact, not an original sentiment and if I were Anna Wintour, he'd be banished from future Met Galas.