SCAN TO SEE In Pictures: Lady Gaga takes off her dress on red carpet, other celebrities sport extravagant costumes at Met Gala bit.ly/2PTNce3
NEW YORK • Singer Lady Gaga stunned on Monday at New York's Met Gala, embodying the extravaganza's "camp" theme as she peeled back look after garish look at the fete thrown by the venerable Metropolitan Museum of Art that sees Hollywood and fashion collide.
This year's carpet - pink for the occasion - into the Metropolitan Museum of Art, whose yearly bash welcomes over-the-top looks that skew to a theme, was even more of an eye-popping doozy than usual, thanks to this year's concept.
Gold, trains, fringe, fur, blond wigs and inspirations from drag, as well as camp legends Cher and David Bowie, were trending on the pink carpet celebrating fashion so bad it is good.
Lady Gaga set a high bar, bringing a shape-shifting look sure to spawn a thousand memes.
The pop diva played Russian doll as her entourage unzipped three looks in hot pink and black, until she sported nothing but glittering black lingerie, fishnets, vertiginous platform boots and wildly long spiky gold false eyelashes.
Singer Katy Perry was literally glowing: The superstar dressed as a candelabra chandelier dripping with crystals, a clear reference to the Lumiere character from Disney's animated feature, Beauty And The Beast.
Rap star Cardi B brought her own red carpet, donning a curve-hugging oxblood Thom Browne gown embellished with feathers that radiated out to form a lengthy circular train, a look she capped with a bugle-bead headpiece.
Pop futurist Janelle Monae had jaws dropping with an elaborate black, white and pink number that recalled a cubist painting - complete with a Cleopatra-style eye covering one breast whose lavishly long eyelashes blinked and a tower of hats that would inspire envy in the Mad Hatter.
The gala kicks off the Met's annual major fashion exhibition, with each seat going for US$35,000 (S$48,000).
Attendance is by invitation only and word has it that Vogue editor Anna Wintour has the final say over each person on the guest list.
Gucci designer Alessandro Michele, British singer Harry Styles and tennis superstar Serena Williams joined Wintour and Lady Gaga to co-chair the event, which raises money for its Costume Institute.
Country superstar Kacey Musgraves rolled up in a bright pink Barbie corvette and was dressed as the iconic doll to boot, sporting a skin-tight Moschino pink zippered dress, with matching cat-eye sunglasses and a feather boa.
Actress Lupita Nyong'o, meanwhile, embodied the theme donning a gown topped off with a rainbow-coloured plume, matching fluffy fan and gold Afro picks in her Marie Antoinette-style beehive hairdo.
A coterie of men also ran with the concept, including actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who wore an all-white suit with an ascot tie and glittering green brooch.
Actor-singer Billy Porter, meanwhile, had his mic-drop moment with a fabulous entrance that saw the performer arrive on a gold litter hoisted by six shirtless men, before he got down to show off his sparkling set of wings.
So, what exactly is "camp?" The museum's exhibition is based on Notes On Camp, an essay written in 1964 by American author Susan Sontag.
"Camp is by nature subversive... confronting and challenging the status quo," the Costume Institute's head curator, Mr Andrew Bolton, said at a press event ahead of the gala. "In the end, the purpose of camp is to put a smile on our faces and a warm glow in our hearts."
Some of the items in the exhibition might best explain the theme: the "swan dress" worn by Icelandic singer Bjork to the Oscars, a glittering costume worn by flamboyant American singer Liberace, a shower head necklace designed by the late Karl Lagerfeld for fashion house Chloe in the 1980s.
"We're experiencing a resurgence of camp - not just in fashion, but in culture in general," said Mr Bolton. "Camp tends to come to the fore in moments of social and political instability. The 1960s was one such moment, as was the 1980s."
The exhibition opens to the public at the Met tomorrow and runs through Sept 8.