Right now, A-listers are hoping their weeks of planning and fretting will pay off — and they won’t look silly at Monday’s 71st annual Met Gala.
This year’s theme is “Camp: Notes on Fashion.” In her 1966 book, “Notes on Camp,” author Susan Sontag described “camp” as “the metaphor of life as theater,” which sounds like an obvious fit for the Anna Wintour-hosted fashion parade. In recent years, you’ve had Rihanna dressed in papal garb, Katy Perry in 7-foot-high angel wings and Kanye West in ice-blue contacts meant to make him look like a cyborg.
Nonetheless, some celebs are nervous about getting the theme right.
“I know some A-listers who regularly attend were unhappy with the looks designers were pitching them,” said one fashion insider. “The idea of ‘camp’ is out of their grasp. One major hairstylist to an A-list actress told me, ‘She’s freaking out because she just wants to look pretty.’ ”
According to one veteran fashionista, there’s a fear of offending Wintour: “You get to the top of the stairs [at the Metropolitan Museum of Art] and . . . if she isn’t smiling, your dress sucks.”
Wintour and her team at Vogue traditionally match celebrities (at least those who don’t have endorsement deals with fashion houses) with designers. But some brands still make their own lists of the stars to target.
“Vuitton and Gucci are very aggressive,” said fashion exec Chris Constable. “When I worked for DVF in 2014, Diane would tell us who her priorities were. That year it was Selena Gomez, Jessica Alba and Olivia Munn.”
Meanwhile, Tom Ford has the shortest list. “Tom has a very precise idea of who wears his clothes well,” said an inside source. “We have to turn down a lot of celebs, believe me.”
And the celebrities’ stylists also want to put their stamp on things.
“Stylists are actually more competitive for the Met than even the Oscars,” said stylist Phillip Bloch.
Stylist Ty Hunter, who’s dressed Beyoncé for several Met Galas, said: “I never compete with anybody. Nor does Beyoncé. The last couple of times, we used Riccardo Tisci, formerly at Givenchy — he knows what works for her. That makes it easy.”
Still, the singer’s behavior certainly suggests she wants to be the center of attention.
In 2015, hair stylist Neal Farinah has said, Beyoncé left for the ball in a chignon — then wanted to change to a high ponytail, thinking the chignon “too theatrical.” Consequently, Mrs. Carter was an hour late. (According to Constable, “Vogue and [publicity powerhouse] KCD dictate what time each star arrives, depending on their fashion cred.”)
One celebrity stylist said unexpected hair can be a quick way to gain attention.
“If you do a change of hair or come with a famous date, the press goes crazy,” said the celeb stylist, who admitted to advising a client to pull such a move. No wonder brunette Anne Hathaway turned up in 2013 with a camera-ready platinum pixie. Last year, Cara Delevingne debuted pink hair, thanks to hairstylist Mara Roszak.
Sometimes, celebs refuse to wear what’s been made for them.
In 2012, Miuccia Prada herself created a silver satin get-up for Gwyneth Paltrow, according to a former celebrity wrangler for Prada. Paltrow’s stylist Elizabeth Saltzman told The Post: “It was a silver satin pinafore top and huge beautiful ball skirt. But she said, ‘Elizabeth, I want to have fun with my friends.’ She didn’t want everyone stepping on her train. So she left the skirt behind!”
(After swearing off the Gala in 2013 — telling USA Today, “I’m never going again. It was so un-fun” — Paltrow returned in 2017 and is expected to attend this year.)
“There are a fair amount of women who [first] see what they’re wearing that day. Some get sewn in at last minute [because there’s not enough time for fittings],” said Constable. “Many actresses don’t like their dresses! But it’s so last minute, they can’t change.”
Perhaps that’s why Blake Lively is the rare star who eschews stylists.
“It’s a creative outlet for her,” said someone close to the star. “She goes on Vogue.com, looks at the shows, has her own relationships with designers. I have seen her rearrange a dress for the Met, change the hem. She figures it all out, even the hair and makeup.”
Although Lively reportedly won’t be on the red carpet for Monday’s gala, there are high expectations for who might be — especially Rihanna, Solange Knowles, Sarah Jessica Parker (known for her over-the-top hats), Katy Perry and others who usually put all they’ve got into the theme.
As does Jared Leto, who’s often attached at the hip to pal Alessandro Michele, the creative director of Gucci and one of this year’s gala co-chairs (along with Lady Gaga, Serena Williams and Harry Styles). Last year, both wore Gucci headband-style tiaras; this year, “they will be the epitome of camp,” said a stylist in the know.
Still, there are insiders questioning the thinking behind the theme.
“It’s hard to pull off a camp theme when [the Met Gala is] already by nature camp,” said Factory PR founder Mark Silver. “I think this theme’s a little tone-deaf right now. We’re in a moment of women’s empowerment and Nancy Pelosi’s suits.”
“Trust me, the Kardashians don’t care if it’s politically incorrect,” said another stylist. “And Anna’s let it become all about them.”
Fashion historian Bronwyn Cosgrave, who co-hosts the podcast “A Different Tweed,” doesn’t think attendees should get too stressed about the dress code.
“I don’t think it’s about fashion at all. It’s about costume,” Cosgrave said. “The great couturiers of years past made society women costumes for these giant balls — they’d be characters more than couture. And you don’t see headgear like SJP’s anywhere outside the Met.”
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