Upper East Side residents know that every first Monday in May, the circus comes to town. The annual Met Gala fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute has become a larger-than-life spectacle in which celebrities, influencers, and a who’s who of media notables flaunt extravagant duds whipped up to match the theme of that year’s exhibition. From Rihanna in a gold embroidered opera coat with a 16-foot train by Guo Pei for “China: Through the Looking Glass,” to Claire Danes in a blue ball gown covered in LED lights by Zac Posen for “Charles James: Beyond Fashion,” attendees seldom fail to astound. For 2019, the pomp and pageantry was taken to the next level.
This year’s theme—“Camp: Notes on Fashion”—gained inspiration from Susan Sontag’s “Notes on ‘Camp,’” an essay that helped classify a genre built on theatricality. And many that graced the gala’s red carpet followed suit. Lady Gaga made jaws drop with four outfit changes in the span of 16 minutes. Lupita Nyong’o spread her wings like Quetzalcoatl in a multicolored column gown with exaggerated shoulders. Céline Dion, in a showgirl getup, showed that her stint as a Las Vegas headliner has rubbed off. Kacey Musgraves came as Barbie, complete with a matching pink convertible. Katy Perry wore an actual chandelier. It was, to be sure, an elevated take on the fashion industry.
“It’s a totally different ball game, simply because of the eyes that are on the event,” says celebrity stylist Jordan Foster Woodger. “It’s the biggest stage in fashion. Not only does everything have to look perfect, but every single detail has to be well thought-out and have a purpose, as it relates to a theme and what that theme means to us.”