NEW YORK - The Met Gala kicked off Monday at peak camp, with Lady Gaga working the pink carpet to its fullest in long golden eyelashes and a huge fuchsia dress, peeling off layer after layer until she was down to a bra, panties and fishnet stockings.
Billy Porter went Egyptian in gold wings and a chain head piece by the design duo the Blonds, carried onto the carpet by shirtless men in gold pants as he lay on top of a black throne.
"Camp is the art of being extra and I've always been extra," he laughed. "I'm from the theater so it's easy for me."
Brandon Maxwell, who created Gaga's reveal, helped her navigate the stairs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as she posed with several helpers. Maxwell undressed her further, revealing a black strapless asymmetrical ballgown underneath with a huge side bustle. Then she undressed again to show off a pink dress reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," walking up and down the carpet.
But she wasn't done. Moments later, she undressed again to pose in a glittering bra and panties set, with huge platform shoes. Gaga is a hard act to follow but Serena Williams, one of her co-hosts, did her best in a neon yellow flowing gown adorned with leaves, Nike sneakers on her feet.
Anna Wintour, who masterminds the gala every year, wore a light pink cape with loose ostrich feathers over a matching gown adorned in a flower sequin design. She smiled and waved sans her signature sunglasses and told waiting reporters this year's theme is anything goes.
"I hope they have a lot of fun," she said of her A-list guests. "The more crazy the better."
The worlds of fashion, film, music and sports converge at the massive gala every year, a fundraiser for the museum's Costume Institute. About 600 people were expected to make it up the museum's grand staircase.
This year's theme "Camp: Notes on Fashion" was inspired by a seminal 1964 essay by Susan Sontag in which she describes the phenomenon as something that shan't be talked about: "To talk about Camp is therefore to betray it." The theme is the basis for the Costume Institute's spring exhibition.
Porter and Gaga weren't the only ones to have big fun with camp. Celine Dion, who wore a backwards tuxedo to the Oscars one year, on Monday night was in a pale gold dress with fringe embellishment and a queenly feather headpiece.
As for Porter, who was a hit at the Oscars in a tuxedo ballgown, said his gala moment was inspired by back-in-the-day Diana Ross, Elizabeth Taylor and "everything else." It took him five hours to get ready.
Harry Styles turned heads as he arrived in a semi-sheer, black ruffled look complete with chunky heels and a single pearl earring, alongside Gucci's Creative Director Alessandro Michele.
Jared Leto wore a red caftan with jewel loops, cradling his own (fake) head. Tiffany Haddish, in a black and silver pantsuit with a glitzy hat on her head, said she vowed not to go snackless this year and brought fried chicken in a plastic bag.
"I bring my own snacks because last year I was starving and I learned my lesson," she said. Of the theme, she declared: "Camping means no panties!"
Kim Kardashian West was dewy in tight, tight, tight couture Thierry Mugler, husband Kanye West stone-faced silent at her side in a Dickey's zip jacket.
Sister Kylie Jenner went for purple from her loose dyed hair to her big feather-muff sleeves, giving husband Travis Scott a peck on the lips as she walked. He looked storm trooper in black with utility harness accessories.
Janelle Monae, always evocative on the carpet, balanced multiple hats piled high on her head wearing a pink and black gown with a black-and-white eye on one side. Fellow singer Dua Lipa went big in a multicolored gown with bulging accents.
Katy Perry was a candled chandelier, who appeared concerned her heavy looking headpiece would topple as she smiled and walked precariously up the stairs.
This story was reported from Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed.