Once again, Lena Waithe wore her queerness on her back at the Met Gala. Last year she wrapped herself in a rainbow flag and called it good. This year, for a theme that specifically paid tribute to queer culture, she and fashion designer Kerby Jean-Raymond took a more thoughtful and studied approach.
These are spectacularly stylish looks and Lena continues to slay at formalwear while remaining true to herself.
What makes her suit notable is that the buttons are effigies of famous queer people of color like Pepper LaBeija, Willi Ninja and Sylvester while the pinstripes are lyrics to drag queen-famous songs. It’s a stunning and chic way for her to wear her queerness and her respect for queer history on her very back. It’s a strong and powerful message that also happens to be stylish as hell while remaining queer to its core.
Having said that, after coming off a year of research on the matter, we think the sentiment expressed on her back is only partially true. Black drag queens and queer POC are responsible for so much of what we call modern queer culture and are definitely among the pioneers and cultural leaders that shaped our idea of camp, but there are many avenues from which camp’s inspiration came, from John Waters to Carol Channing. We love the suit and salute the sentiment, but camp is broader than just the forms of it practiced and portrayed by black drag queens. We’ll let an actual black drag queen have the final say on this one:
I really appreciate the sentiment but. . did black drag drag queens invent camp? Did we? We have contributed A LOT to queer culture and the queer lexicon. Black drag queens are essentially responsible for the modern day queer rights movement, but. . camp?
— Bob The Drag Queen (@thatonequeen) May 8, 2019
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DETAILS — Kerby’s custom silk ‘Zoot’ blazer with stripes made of lyrics from some of his favorite rappers. Each stripe is a bar from Nipsey Hussle, Tupac, Jay Z, Nas, Drake, Meek Mill, J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar. Lines specific to economic empowerment. Custom buttons created in collaboration with @johnnynelsonjewelry.
– Pyer Moss Suits with Portrait Sculpture Buttons Created in Collaboration with Johnny Nelson Jewelry
– Dominic Ciambrone Shoes
[Photo Credit: INSTARImages]
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