The Bold And The Best Dressed Men of the Met Gala 2019
Susan Sontag’s seminal essay ‘Notes On Camp’ serves as the dress code for this year’s Met Gala, the annual event in which fashion’s movers and shakers go way too far on your regular costume party. Except this year's invite is a little more complicated.
After equally abstract themes at past Galas (‘Cubism and Fashion’ of 1998, or the ‘Impossible Conversations’ between Prada and Schiaparelli in 2012), camp is defined as an artificial aesthetic that unintentionally goes too far, that exaggerates, that naively over-eggs the pudding to cultural acclaim. Think the original men-in-tights of Batman & Robin, Queen Elizabeth I and her big lead paint habit, or the permashriek of a perpetually tormented Jamie-Lee Curtis in Halloween. It isn't solely related to queer culture, either (although that plays a big part). Look we told you it was all a bit complicated.
And yet, the guest list turned out in force, camping out on that very thing. Here's the good, the mad, and the downright absurd from the Met Gala 2019.
1 Alexis Ohanian
When your wife is a Met Gala co-chair/undisputed GOAT, you'd be wise to eschew the limelight. Still, Alexis Ohanion made a subtle companion to Serena Williams, channelling the sort of jazz club pianist with an endless capacity for ripping the cheap seats at the back.
2 Billy Porter
After the saga of the tux-gown hybrid, we never thought Billy Porter could outdo himself. And then he arrived as Queen Nefertiti, resurrected in Studio 54, held aloft by six impossibly built men, and still possessing the haughty nonchalance of a moneyed yummy mummy on the chia-rye-bread-and-almond-milk run.
3 Harry Styles
They grow up so fast: from boyband sensation to a Met Gala co-chair, Harry Styles has cemented himself as a true fashion powerbroker. Either that, or a Gucci-gilded vampire baron in medieval Florence, take your pick.
4 Alessandro Michele
As the chief architect of Gucci's cherubic, disco-tinged renaissance, creative director Alessandro Michele knows camp down to a tiara. And he isn't afraid to wear it.
5 Hamish Bowles
Noted fashion journalist Hamish Bowles has a set uniform: high-powered, Gatsby-driven tailoring with the odd statement accessory. All of which was promptly placed on a strong course of steroids for the Met Gala 2019, complete with a poodle-painted, feather-trimmed gown.
6 Richard Madden
Richard Madden has made a happy home out of the razor-sharp suit (and fuelled many a Bond rumor in the process). Made sense, then, to deconstruct the proven formula, opting for overarching monochrome and sparing details throughout.
7 Taron Egerton
Elton John's strain of stadium-status camp is set to live forever more in the upcoming Rocketman. And it's something leading man Taron Egerton took to the Met Gala for 2019 in embellished black tie finery. No pink shades, sure, but still plenty of pinball wizardry.
8 Dapper Dan
Harlem haberdasher Dapper Dan is an institution, a man that boosted hip-hop garb with designer-inspired color, statement, and vibrancy. Little surprise then, that the Met Gala is just another day at the office for the 74-year-old.
9 21 Savage
In what may be a coincidental nod to last year's Catholicism theme, rapper 21 Savage went baroque on The Matrix in a basilica-level jacket above some shiny, shiny trousers.
10 Darren Criss
Darren Criss crossed from Blade Runner cyberpunk to harlequin manservant in one colourful look. No easy feat. But you can thank some choice sequins, a smudge of make-up and one very big, very Karl Lagerfeld bow.
11 Frank Ocean
First we had the Euro Hiker. Then, Frank Ocean pitched camp on another aesthetic entirely: the Italian jetsetter, in which unreasonably handsome men diet on all-black Prada as they go from Paris Fashion Week to another private jet. If the shoe fits.
12 Rami Malek
Forever the man dressing better than all other mere mortals at the next big party, Rami Malek did it again. This time, in a haze of seventies cuts and textures (and one pair of bold metallic boots).
13 Jared Leto
If you were confused by the philosophical dress code, let Jared Leto illuminate your mind: this is, in a nutshell, the camp in which Susan Sontag speaks of. It's performative. It's excessive. It dethrones the serious. Quite the feat for another disco emperor get-up and a Gucci severed head.
14 Benedict Cumberbatch
He's getting good at this. Not only did Benedict Cumberbatch steal the Avengers: Endgame red carpet, the 42-year-old conquered the Met Gala in a suit that puts P. Diddy's infamous white party on the Orient Express of Hercule Poirot (in first class, naturally).
15 Michael B. Jordan
For all the advantages of a classic wardrobe, Michael B. Jordan takes risks. That means a paneled silk and sequined suit comes naturally to the Black Panther actor, and would look just as at home on any non-Met Gala red carpet, too.
16 Baz Luhrmann
Baz Luhrmann has a made career on the theatrical. So it came of little surprise that the director poured the same Strictly Ballroom showmanship into a grandstander, millennial pink two-piece.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.