Amidst the drama of highly choreographed entrances, luminescent dresses, and head facsimiles at last night's Met Gala it was easy to be overshadowed. The theme of Camp challenged attendees to forgo all subtlety and refinement in favor of bold over-the-top looks. Those who opted for traditional suits or gowns easily faded into the background, while the stars of the pink carpet basked in the glow of the spotlight. Keiynan Lonsdale was one of those stars.
The Australian actor, known for roles in films like Love, Simon and Insurgent, made his Met Gala debut last night in a stunning head-to-toe Manish Arora gown covered in 1,500 handmade and embroidered butterflies with a vibrant custom-made neon yellow bodysuit underneath.
"The process for preparing Keiynan for the Met Gala was unconventional because he was invited less than a week from the event, giving us barely any time to ship in outfits and explore our options for a typical fitting," says stylist Katie Qian, who dressed Lonsdale, and has been working with him for over a year (they met on the set of a cover shoot). "Keiynan and I fell absolutely in love with the concept of this butterfly dress by the amazing Manish Arora. It reflected his personal growth and magnificent final form, unabashed, in rainbow colors, and perfectly campy."
"Camp is excessive, ironic, performative, and a little ridiculous — it's not holding back, having fun, poking fun at fashion and at yourself."
It's an apt metaphor for the young actor, who has progressively grown more adventurous with his red carpet style in recent years. "I've seen him become so much more comfortable in his skin and unafraid to wear what he truly loves to the most publicized events in the world," Qian says. "I've gotten to know more about his intense journey and transformation as a member of the LGBTQ+ community under the public eye. We've managed to translate his spiritual transformation and newfound confidence into his looks."
This personal metamorphosis proved to be the driving force behind Lonsdale and Qian's strategy for the Met Gala. "[We] definitely wanted to make a splash," she says. "The theme was so perfect for [Keiynan], so he definitely wanted to be very true to the theme and not shy away from going big and extravagant. [He] wanted to feel like the look was authentic to himself and feel a personal connection with it."
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Lonsdale's look was one of several last night that embraced a non-binary definition of red carpet attire — something that's been similarly tapped by the likes of fellow Gala attendees Billy Porter, Cody Fern, Hamish Bowles, and Ezra Miller (whom appeared alongside Lonsdale in a Camp-inspired spread for Vogue).
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