Met Gala 2019: The Best Camp Culture References on the Red Carpet

If camp is in part having an excess of what's necessary, then last night's Met Gala certainly succeeded on that front. With the guest list of boldfaced names going on into the triple digits, last night's red carpet was a parade of over-the-top looks attempting to nail the "Camp: Notes on Fashion" theme of this year's Costume Institute exhibition. And many were attempting to create original Camp moments of their own; some were more successful than others, of course. Though, because Camp is a subjective way of viewing the world, we'll ultimately leave that up to you decide.

The Gala's theme, however, is not necessarily a hard-and-fast mandate (some, like Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, chose to ignore it altogether) and is left open to interpretation. Attendees always had the option of simply referencing classic camp culture from the past as a way to safely but smartly meet the theme, but of course that requires a little bit of research beforehand (some attendees, like Nicki Minaj, apparently didn't even understand the concept until the day of). Here, visual proof that at least a few guests did their homework.

Lizzo as Shirley MacLaine in What a Way to Go!

(R) Dimitrios Kambouris / Staff | (L) IMDB

Weeks before the Met Gala, Vogue itself pointed out this Shirley MacLaine–starring 1964 comedy as the "campiest film you've probably never seen." If they meant it as a sly dress code suggestion, than Lizzo was the only to pick up the message in her all-pink ensemble from Marc Jacobs.

Natasha Lyonne as Klaus Nomi

(R) Getty Images | (L) Allan Tannenbaum / Getty Images

The woman who appeared on RuPaul's Drag Race just a few weeks ago and told the boisterous drag queen Silky Nutmeg Ganache that she reached "Mike Leigh levels of rawness" in an improv challenge based on Cops was always going to find an impeccably cool way to meet the theme. Her Jean Paul Gaultier jumpsuit appears to be a tribute to the classic uniform of the late theatrical pop star Klaus Nomi in both its simple graphicness and elongated shoulder. Nomi, a native of Germany, emerged himself in New York's underground camp culture of the '70s as an operatically voiced performance artist known for his original songs and strikingly over-the-top renditions of pop songs.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Quentin Crisp

(R) Kevin Tachman/MG19 | (L) Keith Beaty/ Getty Images

If you're named "Benedict Cumberbatch" and you're going to the Camp-themed Met Gala, you really have no choice but to lean into the obvious and dress as a classic English dandy. Cumberbatch's tux appears to be an all-white homage to the particular styling of the writer and cultural figure Quentin Crisp.

Kim Kardashian as Sophia Loren in Boy on a Dolphin

(R) Getty Images | (L) IMDb

As teased on her own IG Stories, Kim Kardashian patterned her optical illusion look after a scene in Boy on a Dolphin in which Sophia Loren appears drenched in sea water. Of course, the fact she got the master Thierry Mugler himself to come out of retirement and design it for her only adds bonus camp credit.

Violet Chachki and Lupita Nyong'o Channeling Divine's Eye Makeup

In retrospect, it's a bit of a letdown that no one channeled Divine's famous red dress from John Waters's cult classic Pink Flamingos, but both Nyong'o and drag queen Chachki credited Divine as the inspiration for their eye makeup.

Gemma Chan as Elizabeth Taylor in Boom!

Taylor Hill

Elizabeth Taylor's 1968 film Boom! was savaged by critics upon its release, but has become something of a camp classic since. Indeed, John Waters loved it so much a Boom! poster is hidden in his own movie Pink Flamingos. That camp appeal is probably in large part due to Taylor's elaborate costumes, and Gemma Chan's Tom Ford–designed look channeled the campiest fashion moment of the film.

Danai Gurira as Oscar Wilde

If Susan Sontag referenced both the "androgyne" and Oscar Wilde as examples of camp in "Notes on Camp," then why not go as an androgynous version of Wilde himself? Thankfully, Gurira provided her own visual receipts.

Billy Porter as Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra

John Lamparski

Boom! is great and all, but you can't talk Elizabeth Taylor and the notion of camp without talking about her Cleopatra. Both Taylor's costumes in the film and her entrance served as inspiration for Billy Porter's look from The Blonds.

Keystone Features

Joan Collins as Joan Collins

Joan Collins apparently just went as her character from Dynasty, which is just the best camp.