While most critics are still reeling from a very long night of assessing every single 2019 Met Gala look according to whether the ensemble is "camp" or "not camp," some have shifted their focus to the look worn by Kim Kardashian.
But it is not the evaluation of Kardashian's Met Gala outfit as being in step with the spectacle's theme, "Camp: Notes on Fashion," that got people talking. It was Kardashian's cinched waist that generated questions, and even some conspiracies, about how she fit into her dress.
For the occasion, Kardashian dressed as a dripping wet version of herself, reminiscent of her May Vogue cover. Thierry Mugler, who hasn't designed a collection of his own since 2003, came out of retirement to design the latex beaded gown for her, and the process took a reported eight months to execute. "He envisioned me as this California girl stepping out of the ocean, wet, dripping," Kardashian said when interviewed by Vogue on the Met red carpet.
On social media, however, some fans and critics were left scratching their heads. Twitter users wondered what happened to her internal organs and wondered if she had removed a rib or two to fit into the gown.
Though Kardashian did not directly address the rumors of whether or not she had ribs removed, she did clarify why her waist appeared to be so small. She wore a tight, custom-made corset designed by famed corset maker Mr Pearl. The designer himself is known for training his body to adapt to wearing corsets nearly all day long over the course of many years, to the point where he now has a rumored 18-inch waist. He's created corsets for performers at the Royal Opera House in London, worked with the late Leigh Bowery (the Australian performance artist and designer whom many experts consider to be the full embodiment of camp), and collaborated with Mugler, Alexander McQueen (for whom he once walked the runway for the designer's spring 1995 collection), and John Galliano on many of their classic runway looks. He's also Dita Von Teese's corset maker of choice.
So how did Kardashian fit into that organ-squishing corset? According to her trainer, Melissa Alcantara (you may know her as @fitgurlmel, from Kardashian's early morning workout Instagram Stories), the truth about her decidedly snatched waist is that it is a result of training six days a week. Alcantara defended Kardashian on social media, calling attention to the fact that the dress did have a corset. “To make things clear…1. This dress is corseted BUT 2. Kim trains her ass off 6 days a fucking week, she wakes up early AF and is dedicated," she said, before adding one final claim. "I paved the road for her but SHE did the work! MOST IMPORTANTLY I don’t give a shit about your opinions on her body, if you think [it's] fake or not! I see her every morning, I see her train and I see her sweat and I see all the work she does outside the gym and THAT is commendable!"
It's important to keep in mind that Susan Sontag's "Notes on 'Camp'" essay does posit that "the essence of Camp is its love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration." With that in mind, Kardashian's look can be understood as representative of the artificial (fake water droplets) and the exaggerated (the optical illusion of the exceptionally tiny waist). Could there really be anything more camp than just going as herself?