In which Stefani Germanotta schools the New York glitterati about camp
May 7, 2019 9:35 PM   Subscribe

The Met gala was in my peripheral in my news feed, and it wasn't until I heard an interview on NPR this afternoon where they discussed the theme, camp. I think that this is utterly the hardest theme to pull off at this type of extravagant gala! Gaga looked great but was it campy? I don't know. If camp is now defined as 90s pop culture maybe?
posted by jj's.mama at 9:54 PM on May 7, 2019

I just finished reading this piece: The Met Gala proved that it's not Camp if you're trying. And the comments were quite educational for me. I feel a lot of the outfits mistook camp with vamp or glam or just plain luxe. It's a hard needle to thread in this situation though.
posted by cendawanita at 9:56 PM on May 7, 2019 [13 favorites]

I think by the time you've stripped down to your bra, panties, and fishnets with giant heels on the pink carpet, you've achieved camp.

I don't know if anyone else managed to do it, but LG did, IMO. *z-snap*
posted by hippybear at 10:01 PM on May 7, 2019 [16 favorites]

Look, I’m a huge fan of Lady Gaga, but it’s an insult to Billy Porter and others who didn’t even have to MOVE to demonstrate true camp.

She does know camp: in the stunning Monsters’ Ball tour, she wore a remote controlled fiber optic dress that insulated as she sang, and played (beautifully) a piano spewing a ten-foot jet of flame. I’m a singer who has been looked down on for coming to a recital in a knee-length skirt; I cried to see her defiance of the norms imposed on artists by the performing world.

There’s something about being a defiant outsider, ironically or unironically, that gives camp its zing. Lady Gaga always puts on a great show, but she didn’t make my jaw drop with the spectacle, or my head shake at the message. It was still just a set of pretty outfits, full stop. When she got the wagon at the end? Yeah, maybe a bit more. But it didn’t make me snap my fingers and apologize for appropriating a long, loud YAAAAAAASSSSSSSS. It didn’t MOVE me.
posted by St. Hubbins at 10:19 PM on May 7, 2019 [19 favorites]

The Met Gala as Musicals (FB link)
posted by fings at 10:23 PM on May 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Ezra Miller also (and especially considering their nb identity) killed this year's brief, imo.
posted by cendawanita at 10:26 PM on May 7, 2019 [14 favorites]

This isn't real, but it's definitely camp.
posted by hippybear at 10:46 PM on May 7, 2019 [6 favorites]

Not as many T-Shirts as Michael Stipe in 1991.

Funny though, googling to see if anyone else made a comparison, and all I'm seeing so far is this from 2014:
" R.E.M. Singer Michael Stipe Gives Gaga Props For Speaking Her Mind
Singer Michael Stipe thinks Mother Monster is doing good work.

So that's cool. Anyways, You heard it here first, uh... It's an homage to Michael Stipe. Or at least, "I was into multi layers of clothes at big fancy ceremonies before you."
I mean college rock IS pretty hipster.
posted by symbioid at 10:47 PM on May 7, 2019

I watched the entire E! red carpet on DVR, fast forwarding over the vapid commentary. I enjoyed deciding for myself what was camp or not. Also, I am pretty well-versed in pop culture and I had to look up a lot of the invitees.
posted by gryphonlover at 10:58 PM on May 7, 2019

cendawanita, thanks for that link - there's really good analysis there...
posted by prismatic7 at 1:08 AM on May 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

posted by schroedinger at 3:28 AM on May 8, 2019 [10 favorites]

All I could think of was Angelyne, so Gaga seemed derivative.
posted by effluvia at 4:07 AM on May 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

All I know about camp is that whatever it is, it definitely isn't.
posted by Peach at 5:42 AM on May 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

I would be so tempted to show up in a sleeping bag dress or suit that deployed an actual, no fooling functional camp complete with a campfire right in the middle of the red carpet at which point I would start handing out s'mores.

But the Hershey-looking chocolate bars used for the smores would be cast in custom pans with words engraved in them. Like "You're too rich for camp." and "You wouldn't know camp if you bit into it."
posted by loquacious at 6:09 AM on May 8, 2019 [14 favorites]

loquacious, you would love this rough sketch.
posted by Katemonkey at 6:11 AM on May 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

Showing her outfit without showing her accompanying House of Gaga Champagne Wagon is doing it a disservice.

This look, tho.

All the looks

And here's the actual exhibit...
posted by Mchelly at 6:13 AM on May 8, 2019 [7 favorites]

A complicating factor here is that it's work. With the exception of socialites and the very powerful people at the top of their careers, the people who go to this thing go to it to be seen because it's good for their careers. They don't actually have freedom to do any of the things that camp conventionally does - poke holes in ideas about beauty, taste, power, authority, normative sexuality, etc - because if they do, they're going to get smacked down by powerful people who are invested in normative beauty, taste, power, etc. (I mean, I assume that people also have fun, I'm not saying it's all joyless labor, but there's a lot riding on being seen to have a great outfit at such a high profile event.)

To me, this is why the whole thing was basically pretend-camp or historicist camp re-enactment - the range was very sharply defined while pretending to be open. "Camp" only as long as it's conventionally beautiful, camp only as long as it's not angry or critical, camp as long as it ridicules nothing.

If someone dressed up as Camp Anna Wintour, for instance, that would be it for their career, even if their outfit was amazing. It's essential for the Met Gala that the Met Gala and its impresarios be taken with the utmost seriousness and treated with the utmost respect.

(I should say that I thought the clothes were amazing in general and included several obviously-for-the-fashion-history-books outfits - just because everyone has to live under the conditions by which they labor doesn't mean that no one was creative or astonishing.)
posted by Frowner at 6:26 AM on May 8, 2019 [16 favorites]

"Camp" only as long as it's conventionally beautiful, camp only as long as it's not angry or critical, camp as long as it ridicules nothing.

This is true, but I think that Lena Waithe's suit deserves a shout-out. Like her rainbow cape last year, it wasn't part of the theme as much as necessary commentary on the theme.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:35 AM on May 8, 2019 [15 favorites]

If someone dressed up as Camp Anna Wintour

So, Patsy Stone from AbFab?
posted by loquacious at 6:38 AM on May 8, 2019 [7 favorites]

This is true, but I think that Lena Waithe's suit deserves a shout-out.

Oh daaaaaaaaamn that's good. Holy shit, the sculpted face buttons, the words in the pinstriping! That's the kind of wacky, campy shit I used to see from club kids. I think the only detail I would change is to swap the masc/fem buttoning patterns of the blazers and swap them, so she gets the masculine buttoned coat and he gets the femme one as a real subtle "fuck you!" to gender norms.
posted by loquacious at 6:43 AM on May 8, 2019 [4 favorites]

LIZZO at the airport was definitely camp <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 6:53 AM on May 8, 2019 [12 favorites]

All I know about camp is that whatever it is, it definitely isn't.

It's the tragically ludicrous. The ludicrously tragic. Like when a clown dies.
posted by Sangermaine at 7:43 AM on May 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Anna Wintour decided to kill camp and largely succeeded, I think. Like the very act of showing up to perform camp for Anna fucking Wintour at the Met Gala...yeah. She is an apex predator, after all. I wish someone would get Grace Coddington's unfiltered take.

I laughed out fucking loud at Kanye West sulking behind his wife in that hoodie, though.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:05 AM on May 8, 2019 [6 favorites]

Was I the only one wondering how spectral the gala looked to her, given that her eyes were rimmed with long mylar mirrors? That’s real pro glam for you—I’d’ve ripped those babies off within minutes.
posted by kinnakeet at 8:23 AM on May 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

The more outfits I looked at, the less sure I was of what camp even was.
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:43 AM on May 8, 2019 [4 favorites]

So, we're living in the Hunger Games timeline now?
posted by kokaku at 8:54 AM on May 8, 2019 [8 favorites]

Existing thread about the Met Gala theme with more discussion about camp.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 8:58 AM on May 8, 2019

Yeah everyone who actually understood the theme looked like they were from the Hunger Games

Billy Porter's aesthetic blew my mind and rocked my world
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:31 AM on May 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

Loved Gaga's tiny hair-hairbows, cute throwback!
posted by exceptinsects at 1:44 PM on May 8, 2019

My personal favorite is Kacey Musgrave, who showed up looking EXACTLY like a Barbie doll. Creepily so. It’s the posing and the makeup and the disproportionate zippers.
posted by KathrynT at 2:11 PM on May 8, 2019 [6 favorites]

I looked at an endless slideshow of the outfits, and it became increasingly tragic. Until Bette Midler and Billy Porter. Camp requires an effortlessness that few here achieved.
posted by acrasis at 2:27 PM on May 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Here's the Tom & Lorenzo coverage, which is usually worthwhile. Even if you're not into their commentary (not everyone's cuppa, for sure), the photos of each outfit are pretty extensive.
posted by merriment at 2:56 PM on May 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

I give all my internet points to Cardi B.
posted by taz at 10:22 AM on May 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

I am not a habitual reader of T&L, but I do not understand how they can run an entire post under the header "Kim Kardashian Puckers Up and Kanye West Pouts" and not actually spare a single word outside of the title for how little effort Kanye made. He's not even in a suit! It's completely absurd
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:06 PM on May 9, 2019

Cara Delevingne's headpiece was made by Machine Dazzle, costume designer for Taylor Mac's 24 Decade History of Popular Music, which is High Maximalist Camp (and very much well researched). So she at least did her homework.
posted by divabat at 9:25 PM on May 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

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