The queer and trans community has perfected the art of camp for decades through extravagant drag looks, otherworldly club kid fashions and themed vogue balls. Embracing the glittery, the tacky, the over-the-top, the gender-bending and the taboo, camp is an aesthetic that flies in the face of Western hetero notions of respectability and good taste, and looks good doing it.
Susan Sontag defined the flashy, kitschy style as a “love of the unnatural, of artifice and exaggeration.” Her 1964 essay “Notes on ‘Camp'” is the theme of this year’s Met Gala fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art—and LGBTQ+ celebrities absolutely killed it on the red carpet.
In February, Pose star Billy Porter made homophobes quake in their boots with his androgynous Oscars look—an exaggerated, high-femme A-line gown with a masculine black blazer. Ever the king of extra, he dialed it up 10 notches with his Met Gala ensemble by The Blonds. Dressed like a luminescent rendition of Ra, the Ancient Egyptian sun god, Porter levitated above the red carpet on a throne carried by chiseled manservants. Naturally, he spread his gold bird wings once he returned to the ground.
“Camp means as hugely over-the-top and grand and what some may feel is ridiculous and silly, and embracing all of those creative impulses inside us that very often are squelched,” Porter told Variety.
Trans actress and activist Laverne Cox sparkled in her all-black Christian Siriano attire—an art deco-inspired gown with wisps of tulle that floated around her body like angel wings in Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. With her turquoise hair and makeup as the only pops of color, the monochromatic outfit’s dramatic shape and texture did the talking.