Remembering My First Met Gala: CAMP 2019

by Coral Chung / May 04, 2020

As a lifelong lover of fashion, I was overwhelmed with joy and excitement when I received the light pink and green invitation, with delicate gold embossing of CAMP: Notes on Fashion, for the 2019 Met Gala

Heels with red carpet clutch and invitationMy 8-inch heels, Red Carpet SENREVE Clutch, and Met Gala invitation

Every time I think back to that evening, I start floating in a dreamlike state refusing to come back down to earth. I started SENREVE with my co-founder Wendy very humbly like many Silicon Valley startups - in my garage and basement. Fast forward 2.5 years later. It’s unreal that I am able to debut our new red carpet collection of clutches as I walk the pink carpet of the Met Gala. To me, the Met Gala represents the epitome of the expression of creativity and a personal dream come true.

After perusing Susan Sontag’s essay and exploring the variations of Camp including some Oscar Wilde classics, I decided on an interpretation that would be a mixture of Louis VIX (the original court of Camp) with a modern-day Harajuku girl. The look was completed with a butterfly dress with layers of ombre ribbon by the talented Sebastian Gunawan, 8-inch heels, an extravagant custom Solene feather and butterfly hair piece (giving me some some height given that many of the attendees are 6 feet tall supermodels), gorgeous earrings from Wendy Yue, a diamond necklace by Zameer Kassam and of course my custom SENREVE Red Carpet Clutch that debuted that night and brought it all together!

Coral posing with red dress with Vogue headline

Zoom in shot of Red Carpet Clutch

Collage of Coral in various evening gownsThank you to this amazing team for making me feel like a princess: Karen Raphael, Ilana Uretsky, Brandon Michael, Dina DiPietro (hair), and Taylor Fitzgerald (makeup)

I felt like Cinderella working with a talented stylist, Karen Raphael, to explore all the different looks.

I have so much respect for the genius of Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute. At the Saturday evening pre-party, he spoke of how Camp often ties to “times of political and social upheaval,” and I can’t help but reflect on how our political and social climate has influenced my passion and determination to build SENREVE into a for-women, by-women brand.

Coral and husband posing at pre party

Shot from inside car approaching the Met GalaDriving into The Met Gala red carpet

The swirls of bright colors, lavish textures, intricate details, flashing lights, and camera clicks of the red carpet are still ringing in my head like it was yesterday. I also signed a young lady’s math homework on the way to the car, hoping it inspired her and that she got that A+.

Coral posing outside the Mark hotel

Each guest is assigned a unique code and a specific arrival time, even so, the traffic and crowds were complete chaos (definitely not socially distant!). Turns out we were at the arrival tent at the same time as Annie Leibovitz, one of the greatest photographers of all time, who ended up taking our picture on the red carpet - nervously admitting she’s not very good at snapping pics with iPhones!

Coral and husband posing with Annie Leibovitz

I’ve never had so many bright flashing lights blinding me as I walked out of the tent onto the pink carpet, right after Harry Styles and in front of Rachel Brosnahan (from one of my favorite shows, the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - who is truly a SENREVE woman).

Coral posing with singer, Harry Styles

Coral and husband posing with Rachel BrosnahanThe lovely Rachel Brosnahan, who's won two Golden Globes for her role on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Of course, the whole time the main thought in my head was “DON’T TRIP AND FALL,” especially not in front of Anna Wintour, Lady Gaga, and Serena Williams who were the other hosts, greeting us at the top of the longest, most intimidating set of staircases ever.

Coral posing in front of staircases

Anna, who I have so much respect for, is an absolute boss lady when it comes to seamless execution of a huge vision. She greets every single guest by name and takes the opportunity to make everyone feel special.

 Coral posing with Anna Wintour in officeMe and Anna Wintour in her office later in the year, during NYFW

Seeing the full display of CAMP was absolutely breathtaking. Here are some of my favorite parts of the unforgettable exhibit:

 Coral and husband posing in front of Faberge exhibit

Coral posing in front of exhibit with purple dress

Photo of exhibit with purple dress and drawing in the background

We were all mingling in the cocktail area, and I was just glad that up until this point I had not yet fallen or tripped. I was also in awe of the unique situation where Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon,  stood to my left and Celine Dion (her presence and proximity put tears in my eyes) commiserated with me on the pain of having a huge headdress.

Coral and husband posing with singer, Celine Dion

Of course one of the most CAMP moments of all was when Jared Leto encouraged me to hold his fake head (which as you can tell from my awkward expression, I didn’t know what to do with).

Coral and husband posing with Jared Leto

Some of my favorite looks of the night include the colorful Josephine Skriver, Lady Gaga’s multiple costume changes, the stunning Lily Collins, and a classy + elegant Ariana Rockefeller.

Candid shot of Ariana Rockefeller

Candid shot of Lily CollinsEven in candid shots, Lily Collins and Ariana Rockefeller are stunning!

We then were ushered in for dinner, and I realized that sitting down on a chair with a tall back would prove highly complicated with the size of my full skirt, but as always, we found a creative way to make it work.

Coral and husband sitting at table

The highlight of dinner was Lady Gaga’s empowering speech and Cher’s thrilling performance of “Believe” while I bopped next to Ashley Graham. It was all surreal.

Other funny and crazy moments that can only happen at the Met Gala:

  • Seeing Kim Kardashian get admonished by the staff for being the only one standing when everyone was asked to sit down for dinner. Turns out her dress was so tight that she could only be in one position the whole time!
  • Getting mistaken for being part of the Crazy Rich Asians cast not once, but twice.

Coral and husband posing with AwkwafinaMe and my husband, alongside the amazing Awkwafina and designer, Joseph Altuzarra

Coral and husband posing with Henry Golding

I was flattered to be mistaken as a Crazy Rich Asians castmate of Henry Golding

  • Despite being successful with the hardest stair climbing and dancing part of the night, and just when I started getting cocky about my balance, I did a complete face plant on the way to the bathroom in front of Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. I was mortified and bright red, but they kindly helped me stand back up and comforted me, assuring me that it happens to everyone...
  • A moment of “we’re all in it together”, ladies in big dresses helping each other out with creative ways to go to the bathroom. This included Demi Moore holding my dress while I straddled the toilet and vice versa with all the stall doors fully open. Such a memorable moment of female bonding and solidarity!!!
  • It’s hard to choose from all the unique and incredible conversations and interactions that happened, but my favorite conversations were with Sophie Turner / Sansa Stark predicting the end of Game of Thrones and making a promise to try Burning Man together. And telling Gal Gadot that my daughter looked up to Wonder Woman as her hero, who was so sweet and offered to do a FaceTime with her on the spot (sadly it was past her bedtime already).

Coral posing with actress, Sophie Turner

Coral and husband posing with Gal Gadot

I was proud that I made it to the after-party despite my hurting feet. I did not want the night to end, but at 4AM, it was finally time for bed…

Coral posing in white after party dress

Red dress lying on bedFinally putting this gorgeous Sebastian Gunawan dress away after an amazing evening

Lastly, getting to go to “fashion prom” with my husband, who is my everlasting rock, made the experience all the more special.

So much about fashion is about bringing together a vision, living a dream, creating beauty in the world, and sometimes being indulgent and outrageous, which was all represented by the CAMP theme of last year’s Met Gala. And during dark times like these, it’s fun to reminisce and dream.

Coral and husband posing on pink carpet