Lena Waithe delivered the best statement at last year’s Met Gala when the theme was “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination”, commanding the red carpet in a rainbow cape meant as a super-shield of support and strength for those rejected by a divine prescription that is selective and biased. She followed that up this year with yet another statement, lest the establishment conveniently forget:
As Prem wrote yesterday in his post about Camp, “the Met exhibition focuses on the white history of Camp, largely ignoring the contributions of black Camp and Camp in other countries”. Lena Waithe was not about to let that slide, showing up to the event in Pyer Moss alongside designer Kerby Jean-Raymond in matching pinstriped suits with song lyrics written into the lines: Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out” and Sylvester’s “Mighty Real”. Of course you can’t stomp a statement into the carpet without the right footwear. These boots are certified.
Tracee Ellis Ross also had something to say. She, her stylist Karla Welch, and designer Jeremy Scott had the idea to “turn [Tracee] into a literal work of art inside the Met museum” but you can’t pull off the look – a relatively simple black dress while holding up an actual picture frame – without committing to the performance. That’s all Tracee. And that’s totally Camp: putting yourself on display, blurring authenticity and artifice, and inviting the beholder to draw their own interpretation. Here’s the best one:
So cultural nuance of @TraceeEllisRoss’ look - People used to show up to the African American Day parade in Harlem with frames around their faces! Lorraine O’Grady’s ‘Art Is’ movement.— Shelby Ivey Christie (@bronze_bombSHEL) May 7, 2019
Centering blackness as beauty. Reclaiming the narrative. BLACK CAMP! #MetCamp pic.twitter.com/OAA8EVFCDC