Did Tracee Ellis Ross’s Met Costume Gala Look Allude to Art By Lorraine O’Grady?

Tracee Ellis Ross.


At Monday night’s Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute gala in New York, one celebrity taking up the evening’s theme of “camp” boasted a look that appeared to reference a notable artwork.

That celebrity was Blackish actress Trace Ellis Ross, who arrived at the event in a black gown with a gold frame attached. For many on social media, the work recalled Lorraine O’Grady’s Art Is …, a performance work from 1983 for which the artist brought golden frames to an African-American Day Parade in Harlem and encouraged attendees to pose within them.

O’Grady’s work—which the subject of a Studio Museum in Harlem show in 2015—was documented in photographs of young men and women dancing and smiling inside the frames. For O’Grady, the piece was a way of bringing art into everyday life.

Ross’s look for the spectacle at the Met—in advance of “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” a big interdisciplinary exhibition opening to the public on Thursday—was overseen by Karla Welch, who is currently one of the most sought-after stylists working today. (The black dress was by Moschino.) “It’s how we make ourselves art,” Welch told InStyle on Monday. “For me, camp is a vessel for art, and we took that into consideration. Also, a woman is a piece of art, so there’s something there as well.”

As for whether O’Grady was the inspiration, a representative for Welch did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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