Camp: Notes on Fashion
The Met Fifth Avenue
MAY 9–SEPTEMBER 8, 2019
“To start very generally: Camp is a certain mode of aestheticism. It is one way of seeing the world as an aesthetic phenomenon. That way, the way of Camp, is not in terms of beauty, but in terms of the degree of artifice, of stylization.”
The Met Costume Institute has announced the theme for fashion’s biggest exhibit and event of the year. “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” will focus on a more abstract concept, or rather, an aesthetic.
CAMP refers to the ironic, the “it’s so bad its good” feeling we’ve all encountered in any sort of art form. Camp can also be performative. Insolence is part of it–being rude and lively all at the same time (take Bette Midler as example). This type of aesthetic has a disregard for comfort and gratification. Rather, it seeks to challenge the mind. A complex term, CAMP can encompass dance, film, literature, fashion, music and even politics.
The framework comes from Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay Notes on “Camp,” in which she notes that “not only is there a Camp vision, a Camp way of looking at things. Camp is as well a quality discoverable in objects and the behavior of persons. There are “campy” movies, clothes, furniture, popular songs, novels, people, buildings. . . . This distinction is important. True, the Camp eye has the power to transform experience. But not everything can be seen as Camp. It’s not all in the eye of the beholder.
A top-tier event followed by an exhibition, the Met Gala is an annual phenomenon, starting religiously on the first Monday of May at the Met Fifth Ave. It’s most visible attendees (by invite-only) are the flocks of A-list celebs lavishly dressed as the corresponding theme.