If you saw the Pyer Moss suit Lena Waithe wore at the Met Gala, you might have been attracted to the details of the garment. But the story is in the details, darling. What, at first glance looked like pinstripes, were actually lyrics to the songs, “I’m Coming Out,” “Take Me or Leave Me,” and more. The gold buttons were mini sculptures of Black Drag Queens including many stars from the famous Paris is Burning documentary, like Pepper Labeija, Willi Ninja, Rupaul, and Dorian Corey—the queen who famously and poignantly described the difference between “shade” and “reading,” drag terms that have been totally coopted by mainstream culture.
And most noticeable was the back of Waithe’s jacket, which read, “Black Drag Queens Inventend Camp.”
Initially, when people noticed the spelling of “inventend,” they believed the designer of Waithe’s garment had made a critical spelling error. But in actuality, that was not the case. The spelling of the word was intentional. In a tweet, Waithe explained:
She explained, the extra “n” causes you to emphasize the “D.” It’s a nod to Black vernacular, our penchant and expertise at taking old English words and reshaping or reforming them to create new meanings. There’s the homage to the tradition of Ball Culture which defies rules of a heteronormative and patriarchal world in order to express yourself freely.
It really was genius and certainly one of the more intelligent, on-theme and Black looks of the evening.
Once Waithe explained her process, as she’s been doing over the past few days, people were quick to express their interpretation and their appreciation for the suit.
See what they had to say on the following pages.