Earlier in the day on Monday, there were rumors of a Lady Gaga performance happening on the red carpet. And though no singing was involved, perform she did: arriving at a prompt 5:25 p.m. to what was actually a pink carpet, the Oscar winner dazzled to “oohs” and “ahhs” as she shed layers of Brandon Maxwell, giving the cameras a (relatively family friendly) burlesque performance for nearly 20 minutes. Anna Wintour stood at the top of the stairs beaming as her cohostess set the bar high for this year’s Met Gala theme, “Camp: Notes on Fashion.”
So who could could possibly top that? As it turned out, no one. This year’s attendees were relatively tamer — and a bit more random — than in years past, with celebrities like Rihanna and Beyoncé sitting out fashion’s big night — as well as some of the designers who had taken tables in the past.
Gaga’s cohost Harry Styles was all business as he arrived with Alessandro Michele of this year’s sponsor Gucci, giving barely a smile to the press as he headed inside. Jared Leto, also repping team Gucci, followed suit not long after with an alarming take on camp: he carried a replica of his own head. “The head is probably a better interview,” he told a reporter when asked for comment.
“Camp is something that I’ve lived my whole life and didn’t know I was campy,” Dapper Dan said, dressed, naturally, in Gucci. “I was born outside of the box and everything I did before Gucci discovered me has always been campy, and now I get a chance to bring camp to the [Met] but I’ve always been campy.”
Anderson Paak was making his way up the carpet in head-to-toe Gucci as well. “Having a good time, real gaudy, real extravagant, you can’t do that on the regular you know what I’m sayin’?” he said of his Met debut. “I try to do regular, but it’s hard out here — you gotta stand out, you gotta shine.”
Paak was interrupted by actor Taron Egerton, who is portraying king of camp Elton John in the upcoming movie “Rocketman.”
“I’m such a fan, me and all my boys came to see you in London a couple of weeks ago,” he told Paak. “You are on fire man, I love what you do.”
Peter Dundas cited Elton John as inspiration for the evening. “Cher, Elton John, a little bit Diana Ross as well,” he said of his top camp tunes.
Camp proved a romantic evening for many of Hollywood’s young couples: Max Minghella and a Miu Miu-clad Elle Fanning played coy on the carpet, Minghella ever the doting boyfriend on clutch-carrying duty. Cole Sprouse and Lili Reinhart ignored reporters but held hands proudly as they passed. Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus, both in Saint Laurent, were loved up on the carpet, smiling to reporters.
Billy Porter arrived early in the night, carried in on a litter by six men (he credited his stylist with the idea). It took the performer five hours to get ready in his winged ensemble by The Blonds.
“The theme song of camp? ‘You Gotta Get a Gimmick’ [by Bette Midler],” Porter said — clearly taking the advice to its absurd limits.
The steps of the Met are not without hazard — Midler herself was out of breath by the time she reached the top of the stairs, while Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli nearly tripped on Joan Collins’ train as the pair were navigating their way up.
Kris Jenner, in Tommy Hilfiger, arrived ahead of the rest of her clan, and waited patiently at the top of the stairs for the rest to trickle in. She gave a spirit fingers wave to Kanye West when she spotted him at the base of the stairs, as Kim posed nearby.
“Gisele, you’ve still got it!” a reporter shouted at Bündchen. “You’ve got that right!” Tom Brady said back, with equal parts dorkiness and cheese.
Ryan Murphy wore a creation by Christian Siriano that he said they’ve been working on for months. “It’s a tribute to Liberace; it weighs 100 pounds so I don’t even know how many sea pearls are on it,” he said of the outfit, which was modeled after Liberace’s original Neptune costume. “I was strapped in, there’s a harness underneath. My grandmother loved Liberace, who I thought always had a great sense of humor.”
Gemma Chan was also balancing a heavy outfit. “I’m going to wear it for as long as I can,” the Tom Ford-clad actress said of her headpiece. She cited Elizabeth Taylor as inspiration for her look. “And Cher for the hair,” she said. “Two camp icons.”
Ford’s husband, Richard Buckley, parked himself at the top of the staircase with a plush stuffed pig under his arm, which he gave to celebrities as they made their way in for a photo op.
Camp should be, if nothing else, tongue in cheek.