MET Gala 2019: A Timely Ode to Excess

MET Gala 2019: A Timely Ode to Excess

Right when fashion is making a noise about sharing, caring and paring it down, the MET Gala lights up a fire in the other camp

First with the firsts. Both actors Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra Jonas offered, at best, cacophony on the pink carpet of the 2019 MET Gala in New York (at the Metropolitan Museum of Art) on May 6. Amusingly disappointing. Audaciously mixed up even as they seem sorted in the business of glamour. We deserve no pat on the back for bracketing our biases regionally by calling out our desi girls for serving a lemon or two at the fashion’s annual prom night but, well. Out on a challenge to challenge the aesthetically pleasing—one of the many ways that defines camp, Padukone, on her third outing at the MET Gala remained a fashion fumbler in her take on the theme—“Camp: Notes on Fashion”.

Padukone’s Barbie avatar in a Zac Posen pink lurex jacquard gown, looked insufficiently cheesy, ineffectively vain, damsel not as much in dressed up distress as in a wig, of high, big hair with its hue mismatched from the roots of her real tresses that had been severely pulled back. Ho and hum.


Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images/AFP

Actor Deepika Padukone attends the 2019 MET Gala celebrating

Priyanka Chopra Jonas on the other hand, arrived dressed more in swagger and some in Dior, cassata girl in mesh and silver sheer, feathery fringes and a cage patterned bodice, wild hair, a slit that said hi and bye to the thigh, a diamante crown and hubby Nick Jonas on the arm in white. Jonas’ white suit had silver accents, as had one of his ears studded with ear ornaments. Both wore silver glittery shoes, one a pair of stilettos, the other lace-ups with red block heels. Jonas looked suited to Chopra; while she looked suited to the theme (“seriously on point” as one website termed it) but in a way that was neither hair-raisingly powerful nor palpitatingly Diva-esque. Camp is about looking good in an awful sort of way, right? PeeCee looked not great in a not good sort of way.


Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images/AFP

Actor Priyanka Chopra and singer Nick Jonas at the 2019 MET Gala.

Not all lemons carried an Indian passport of course. Designers Donatella Versace and Alessandro Michele, actors Lupita Nyong’o and Kerry Washington or singer Nicki Minaj made a sound and some, but didn’t have much to say. Yet designer Jeremy Scott and model Naomi Campbell did—they looked…ahhhh…. “nice”. Disclaimer: Last checked, the word “nice” doesn’t exist in the Idiot’s three-minute Guide to Camp Vocabulary.

How cheesy, conceptually bad in taste, deliberately decked in irony or “camp” can you be in a universe that is conditioned to give sex, love, loans, clothes, jobs and free burgers to the conventionally pretty is a question only fashion can answer. And it did. The MET Gala, an annual benefit event for the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, often called the world’s biggest fashion party magnetically pulled attention to unbridled excess at a time, when sustainability, and if not that then at least anti-excess is the loudest war cry of global fashion. Described with such argumentative vigour in writer-activist Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay Notes on Camp, this pink carpet was rolled out to unroll at least some of what is done, dreamt, imagined, fantasised or fetishised out of the box. Alas, only in the lives of celebrities, but let’s not be too “campy” about that.


Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

Model Bella Hadid and designer Jeremy Scott attend The 2019 Met Gala.

Thing is, outré is also in. In 2019, it is as much a truth of our times as is eco-logic. The rebellious sibling of consciously responsible fashion is the liberty and the freedom to be zany and outlandish. To be charmingly flawed and own it. So there was singer-songwriter Katy Perry as a “ham” burger hamming her way into the idea of hitting the extreme. For those who live with, off and for fashion, or follow it must read its signals. Folks, it is a deliriously complex time to live in.

That is the realisation “Camp: Notes in Fashion” washed up the shore this morning. From singer-songwriter Lady Gaga’s pink and black performance, where she peeled off the layers of excess to reveal also another form of excess in idea politics and theatrics, to singer-songwriter Jared Leto carrying a replica of his beheaded head as an accessory or performer Billy Porter, as the Egyptian Sun God, the sun literally rising from his sass…there is something about letting it down, hair and stuff, that makes fashion what it is. A never-satiated, never-perfect, fabulously fascinating camp that we must take time out for.


Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

Actor Billy Porter at the MET as the Egyptian Sun God.

Now, a MET Gala 2019 looks list. How else would brands rationalise their presence and swag on the pink (green in the future?) carpets if it was just about show and tell. Here, ten show-and-sell Camp trends to bet your bucks on.

  1. Foot-long eyelashes, in neon, opaque white and pink.
  2. Lipsticks: In Berry, Cherry, Strawberry, Wine and Shine
  3. Black lace lingerie—stays on the forever list of must-haves, must-slay tools
  4. Silver glitter lace-ups for men. La Nick Jonas. Whoa.
  5. Nude especially when you are dressed. See reality TV star Kim Kardashian’s rose-mud hue.
  6. Fringes and feathers. Casatta colours, yellow, purple, orange, neon too. Refer model Kendall Jenner tangerine tales.
  7. Bulgari jewels. On Naomi Campbell.
  8. Silver Stilettos: Jennifer Lopez, Priyanka Chopra, Katy Perry, Zendaya
  9. Gowns with Neon Nikes. Tennis star Serena Williams, sporting spring in Versace.
  10. Keep your head closer to your heart. See Jared Leto.

Banner: Actor Jared Leto at the 2019 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York.