If you look past the layers of tulle and frou, past outré embellishment and extravagance and past the context of camp, there was serious craft behind the elaborate red carpet looks at Monday evening's Met Gala in New York.
Haute couture, the art of creating custom-made fashion using the finest fabrics and techniques, constructed by hand from start to finish, let designers' imaginations soar with this year theme based on Susan Sontag's 1964 essay "Notes on Camp."
From a bespoke chandelier dress designed by Moschino worn by singer Katy Perry, complete with functioning lights, to the hand-sewn enveloping fuchsia gown hemmed with a never-ending train as seen on Lady Gaga - under which she hid three subsequent outfit changes, but more about that later - it was the gold standard of fashion events and a true celebration of craft.
A look adorned with 30,000 feathers took two thousand hours to make
Perhaps the most elaborate look was produced by New York-based designer Thom Browne, who created a Queen of Hearts layered down-filled dress for Cardi B: an oxblood tulle and silk organza gown featuring a three meter train, hand-emboirdered bugle beads, ruby nipples, and 30,000 burned and dyed toque feathers (let's for a moment consider the craft and forget about sustainability.) Haute couture? The dress took 35 people and over two thousand hours to piece together.
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... queen of hearts ... cardi b wears a thom browne anatomical down-filled dress layered in oxblood tulle and silk organza, with a three-meter long train. the shirred, gathered tulle fill creates a shape that twists, waves, and gathers. with hand-embroidered bugle bead detailing, ruby nipples, and 30,000 burned and dyed coque feathers, the dress took 35 people and over 2,000 hours to create. #thombrowne #metgala #metcamp #cardib #stephenjonesmillinery
Celine Dion, a modern day haute couture renegade, was dressed in custom Oscar de la Rente, wore a metallic body suit to rival Cardi B's extravagance, decorated with floor-length fringing (thousands apparently,) weighing over 22 pounds, and taking over three thousand hours and a team of 52 workers to construct. The headpiece? Gold-tinted to match the look, a delicate concoction of singed peacock feathers designed by milliner Noel Stewart.
But it was Lady Gaga who took the notion of camp and successfully married showmanship and craft beyond aesthetic frivolities. She arrived with a red carpet team, who supported the singer to navigate the stairs, change outfits and handed her props - a Judith Leiber black mobile phone bag, sunglasses or an umbrella. Kudos to her stylist who expertly removed outer layer after outer layer in front of the world's cameras to reveal yet another stunning creation. The hot pink Brandon Maxwell gown with giant head bow when removed revealed a black bustier and puff-ball gown, accessorised with an umbrella. Underneath Ms Gaga wore a fitted fluoro pink spaghetti strap gown, which, when unzipped, revealed her in a black lace bra, fishnets and underwear, tottering on sparkling platforms and pulling a cart filled with pink champagne and cowboy hats. Was it camp? You bet. But of the highest, haute couture order.
Homepage image: Lady Gaga: Neilson Barnard / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP
Lady Gaga combo: Angela Weiss / AFP