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Here’s the Surprising Inspiration Behind Billy Porter’s Magnificent Sun God 2019 Met Gala Look

2 minute read

Billy Porter had one of the most iconic entrances in Met Gala history when he showed up to the 2019 Costume Institute Ball as the Sun God, carried in on a gold and velvet litter hoisted by six shirtless men — a perfect embodiment of the night’s theme, Camp: Notes on Fashion.

While Porter’s resplendent custom catsuit and 24-karat gold headpiece by the Blonds (which was hand detailed with Preciosa crystals, chain fringe and gold bugle beads) might bring to mind Egyptian iconography, the inspiration for the look came from one of the modern camp icons: Diana Ross. In an interview with Playbill, the Pose star and Tony Award-winning entertainer shared that the Sun God idea came about while he and Pose creator Ryan Murphy were discussing looks, with Murphy suggesting that Porter dress in the looks of Diana Ross’ iconic Mahogany montage.

“We stumbled upon this Egyptian idea. Ryan Murphy, we were talking—I’m at Ryan’s table. Ryan was talking about, ‘You should go as Diana Ross’ Mahogany montage, five outfits.’ But who wants to work that hard throughout the evening?” Porter said. “But I watched the montage and the thing that stuck out to me the most was the Egyptian look. It was this Diana Ross Egyptian moment that launched it and we expanded from there, to Elizabeth Taylor, to Egyptians were gods so this is the sun god. All different ideas came into play and we landed on what we got.”

Porter, who wowed viewers when he showed up to the 2019 Oscars in a stunning tuxedo and Christian Siriano skirt combo this awards season, said that the night’s theme wasn’t difficult given his background in theater: “I am a theatre baby, and I do understand camp. I am camp.”

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Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com