THE QUARANTQUEEN MET GALA

CT Hedden, a drag performer from New York City determined to continue a trend that started last year when the Met Gala welcomed the first three drag queens to the carpet: RuPaul, Aquaria and Violet Chachki.

By Balthazar Malevolent

THE QUARANTQUEEN MET GALA

The Met Gala has brought us some of the most significant moments in fashion ever. Cher turns heads arriving at the Met Gala on the first Monday in May 1974 wearing one of the designs of Bob Mackie: a sheer, beaded gown with white feathered sleeves and a white feathered skirt that began around the knee. A newly-divorced Princess Diana arrives at the Met Gala on the first Monday in May 1996 in a navy satin dress with black lace trim from designer John Galliano, who had just begun his tenure at Dior. Amber Valletta stuns in a Marie Antoinette-inspired Maggie Norris Couture corset and John Galliano shirt, complete with a powdered coif, on the first Monday in May 2004. On the first Monday of May 2015, Rihanna went viral with a 55-pound gold-sticked, golden-yellow imperial cape designed by Chinese couturier Gui Pei.

May 2020, First Monday? Crickets. "We're going as scheduled and we're looking forward to a great evening," a spokesperson from the Costume Institute told The Cut on March 12. Four days later, on 16 March, Anna Wintour announced that the Met Gala had been "indefinitely postponed." The event, which was to be co-chaired by Nicolas Ghesquière of Louis Vuitton, Emma Stone, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Meryl Streep (it would have been her first time), was added to an ever-growing list of canceled events, including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the 73rd annual Cannes Film Festival, Burning Man, Frieze New York, Eurovision Song Contest, TED 2020 and more.

CT Hedden, a drag performer from New York City determined to continue a trend that started last year when the Met Gala welcomed the first three drag queens to the carpet: RuPaul, Aquaria and Violet Chachki. Be afflicted with coronavirus. "I was doing a healthy, socially distant jog on Friday night before the Met Gala was going to take place, and I thought, 'I indeed, should be building something here,'" says Hedden. "It's my responsibility as an artist to present, even in tough times. We're doing what we're doing sending messages through our work, and now more than ever, if I can make people laugh and more importantly vomit, then I'm doing my job." And so the idea for CT Hedden's QuarantQueen Met Gala was born that very moment.

The Drag QuarantQueen Met Gala.The Drag QuarantQueen Met Gala.

In twelve hours the entire idea was thought up, shot, and completed. Then Hedden phoned Sidewalkkilla, the photographer, who was on board instantly. Regardless of the apparent limitations and health issues, they knew they had to do so carefully. Then came the stars: Jasmine Rice LaBeija, Nikki Exotika, Thee Suburbia, Glow Job and Digna, all of whom unthinkingly started preparations for the film. Think of the Power Rangers pinging by Zordon. Only drag queens.

The Drag QuarantQueen Met Gala.The Drag QuarantQueen Met Gala.

The outcome is a collection of beautiful editorial photos: a celebration of the biggest tentpole of the Met Gala — the fashions — and a cultural statement on the times we live. As in the great superpower of drag. "I hate hearing 'we are all together in this,' because we really aren't," Hedden says. "I wanted people to know that fashion, elegance, and glamor are still alive, and if dressing up in a gown at home in your living room makes you feel better than bitch, do it. Smile, sob, get mad, do all of the above. The Queer community, though quite fragmented, has a way to always come together in hard times. We're hustlers, we've always been and always will be. I hope people appreciated my version of the Gala and I'm grateful to everyone who helped make it happen. Now that said, I hope that next year we will be invited because we protected their asses this year."

The Drag QuarantQueen Met Gala.
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