Here’s how the first Monday in May will probably not, but absolutely should, go down.
We’re three days out from the Met Gala, and fashion fans are already shifting in their seats in regards to whether or not the guests at fashion’s biggest fête will be able to adhere to the theme. Considering this year’s gala is rooted in Camp, a semi-obscure, oft-misinterpreted sensibility that academic Susan Sontag attempted to pin down in 1967, it’s more than likely most Met Gala attendees have privately resigned themselves to the fact that their outfits are unlikely to measure up. (Case in point: The choice of Lady Gaga to co-chair the event demonstrates a shallow understanding of camp at best.)
As someone with a deep, cellular appreciation of camp, this is absolutely not acceptable. Camp courses through my veins, oozes out of my pores, and perfumes my sweat. There may even be tiny pink flamingos encoded into my DNA. Campy 1970s cult films like Zardoz, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and literally every single movie John Waters has ever made are among my greatest pleasures in life. So it should come as no surprise that I have Extreme Opinions about how I’d like to see this year’s theme go down. Here are 6 things that I absolutely need to happen on the Met Gala the red carpet this year.
1. Cher arrives wearing Bob Mackie, or better yet, somebody arrives dressed up as Cher wearing a Bob Mackie.
Cher’s flamboyant performances and powerful presence cemented her status as a gay icon, but it’s her willingness to playing up that gay icon status that makes Cher truly camp. Her propensity for wearing sparkly, revealing outfits that are by definition Too Much mark her almost the living embodiment of camp. My greatest hope for this Met Gala is to see Cher show up dressed as her glorious self on the red carpet. The second-best thing would be somebody else showing up in a recreation of one of Cher’s “naked dresses” designed by Bob Mackie.
2. John Waters is the Guest of Honour
If this Met Gala is to attain any sort of authority on the subject of camp, then he of the pencil-thin moustache, John Waters, must absolutely receive some sort of special honour. Waters’ traffics in overacted depictions of demented people engaging in the most depraved acts imaginable, which earned him the nickname “the Pope of Filth.” Films like Pink Flamingoes, Female Trouble, and Desperate Living are basically guidebooks to a beginner’s understanding of the camp sensibility. (If you have seen the dog shit scene in Pink Flamingoes you will never, ever forget it.) If John Waters doesn’t make a special trip to New York from his home in Baltimore to personally shake Anna Wintour’s hand, it will be the biggest misstep in Met Gala history.
3. Anna Wintour Wears a Feather Boa
Anna Wintour is decidedly not camp. She rarely smiles or removes her sunglasses or strays from her uniform of clipped bob and mid-length floral tea dresses. Her demeanour is reportedly frosty. Perhaps worst of all, she allegedly eats salad without dressing. She contains none of the hallmarks of eccentricity or or uninhibited behaviour that define camp. Anna Wintour needs to swap her signature statement necklace in favour of a feather boa – and perhaps a pair of stripper platforms – if she has any hope in hell of achieving the delightful tastelessness that flourishes under camp.
4. RuPaul and Frances Bean Cobain Re-enact This Famous Photo from the 1993 MTV VMAs
Drag is one of the most camp activities one can perform, and the red carpet will not be complete without an appearance from the most famous drag queen of all, RuPaul. There will be bonus points if Ru, decked out in full drag regalia, brings Frances Bean Cobain as his date and they re-enact the famous photograph of RuPaul looking deeply concerned as he holds a baby Frances Bean Cobain in his arms. Cobain told Vanity Fair that picture represents a formative moment in her life. Her father Kurt had “the deepest appreciation for drag culture,” and she remembers being babysat by many drag queens in her childhood. I suspect France Bean is one of the few celebrities who inherently understands the camp sensibility and would be able remain on-theme.
5. Rihanna Wears an Outfit So Large it Requires a Panorama to Capture
Camp is all about exaggeration, and the most literal way to demonstrate this is through size. Year after year, Rihanna is one of the only celebrities with the consistent ability nail the Met Gala red carpet and judging by the trailing Guo Pei cape she wore to 2015’s China: Through the Looking Glass fête, she’s clearly not afraid to go big or go home. Hopefully at least one attendee, preferably Rihanna, will raise the bar for the evening and wear a train of Princess Diana proportions.
6. Someone Takes Diana Veeland’s Why Don’t You? Column Extremely Literally
Legendary editor Diana Vreeland served as special consultant to the Met’s Costume Institute starting in 1973 and helped put together many fashion-related exhibitions, but one of her campiest contributions to culture was a column for Harper’s Bazaar titled “Why Don’t You?” in which she issued increasingly bizarre prescriptives to the magazine’s readers. Some her more absurd suggestions include: “Why don’t you… Order Schiaparelli’s cellophane belt with your name and telephone number on it?,” “Why don’t you… tie black tulle bows on your wrists?,” and “Why don’t you…Rinse your blond child’s hair in dead champagne to keep it gold, as they do in France?” If somebody arrives to the Met Gala red carpet and announces they’ve washed their hair in champagne, I will go to bed sufficiently pleased.