Kim Kardashian West graces the cover of Vogue magazine's May 2019 issue. The cover lines suggest that the issue will incorporate the Met Gala, happening the first Monday in May. But you'd never guess that this year's theme is "camp" by looking at the cover image. Kardashian is dripping wet in a sheer shirt. It's not an unusual look for the reality star but it doesn't invoke the Met Gala's theme.
Fashion's biggest night will also be co-chaired by Lady Gaga, the self-dubbed 'art pop' queen herself, Harry Styles, Serena Williams, and Gucci's all-but-elusive creative director and reviver of high-fashion camp Alessandro Michele. Earlier this month, Andrew Bolton, the Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute, further explained the relevance of the 2019 Met Gala's theme to Vogue, saying “[camp] has become increasingly more mainstream in its pluralities—political camp, queer camp, Pop camp, the conflation of high and low, the idea that there is no such thing as originality.”
Kardashian briefly addresses her own style in the accompanying cover story, revealing that when her then-boyfriend, now-husband cleaned out her closet during an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, she almost cried.
“When he was still fairly new to the relationship, he was like, ‘Can I give you a fashion makeover?’ I was open: Sure! Dress me up! He took me to a Lakers game and he put me in this black Givenchy leather dress and Tom Ford snakeskin shoes and a team of stylists came to my house, and when we came home, there were shoes piled up almost to the ceiling that they had taken out of my closet. I only had two pairs left! I almost started to cry. I spent years collecting those. And then there were racks and racks of clothes, designers I’d never heard of before, like Lanvin or Balmain or Margiela.”
She maintains that she wasn't offended by West. “Because I saw what a response I got—he was right. He’s been my go-to stylist ever since. I’ve always admired how he’s marketed things or come up with ideas for his videos and his looks—he thinks ahead. I show him what we’re doing at night when we’re in bed.”
Kim's current style philosophy, under Kanye West's direction, is pared-down and muted. It couldn't be further from camp, which Bolton traces back "to the flamboyant posturing of the French court under Louis XIV" and Louis XIV’s effeminate brother Philippe I, duc d’Orléans. He even mentions a letter from Lord Arthur Clinton in 1869 to his lover Frederick Park, a cross-dresser known as Fanny. Someone who often embraces Gucci's camp-y aesthetic, like say, Harry Styles, would have been a much better fit.
In previous years, the May issue directly corresponded to the Met Gala. Amal Clooney not only was the co-host for the 2018 Costume Institute show “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” but she starred on the cover. In her letter from the editor, Anna Wintour wrote that the magazine has “always taken the position that the women we feature should have substance to them, something that has only taken on greater urgency in the last year or so.”
Katy Perry was the May 2017 cover star, the same year she was a co-host. And the year before that, Taylor Swift covered the May 2016 cover of Vogue. That was the year she cochaired the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute’s 2016 gala, for the exhibition “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.”
So why the sudden departure from featuring the year's co-hosts? It isn't a secret the publishing industry is facing challenges generating income as print magazines subscriptions decline and ad dollars shift. Kim Kardashian's Vogue cover with Kanye West in April 2014 was a top-selling issue that year.