The concept of “camp” in fashion is one thing. But how does it transfer into other arts—say, those of the kitchen? That was the challenge for the creative and culinary forces behind this year’s Costume Institute Gala, “Camp: Notes on Fashion.”
Event designer Raul àvila, who has overseen the Met Gala’s design since 2007, puts it this way: “Camp is all about the exaggeration.” So, when it came to table settings, sterling silver forks and white linen napkins were out. In was bamboo flatware, feather lampshades, floral Lenox plates, flamingo embroidered napkins, and shocking pink tablecloths. Tropical flowers in colorful vases tied the entire look together. “The inspiration is a reflection of my Latin roots and the unique floral and fauna,” àvila tells Vogue. “There was no room for simplicity, even when it came to the table setting.”
And what’s plated on these fantastical tabletops? Met Gala caterer Olivier Cheng conjured up a colorful menu: filet of beef with beet horseradish crema accompanied by tomato rye tartlets, haricot adorned with edible orange flowers, and an array of rainbow carrots. But it was the dessert course where he had some fun. “We developed a lovely Gianduja cake with a “male-female” topper—male on one side, female on the other,” he said. “Bit of a double entendre.”
All the delicious fare is served by waiters in white jackets with green carnations, a nod to camp’s importance in gay culture. “It was rumored that Oscar Wilde and his circle would wear a green carnation to signify to each other that they were part of the underground gay culture of that era,” says Cheng. “This added just a touch of playfulness and intrigue to their attire.”
The night ends on a light, flighty confection: flamingo cookies, passed out to guests on silver trays as they head into The Great Hall. Quite the sweet theatrical treat.
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