Raaaaaaaaather esoteric, but it could work.
For its’ Spring 2019 exhibition – sponsored by Gucci– the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute presents “Camp: Notes on Fashion” with co-chairs Lady Gaga, Alessandro Michele, Harry Styles, Serena Williams, and Anna Wintour.
The theme is a riff on pop philosopher Susan Sontag‘s groundbreaking 1964 essay “Notes on Camp,” which made her a literary sensation and cult idol.
Essentially, the essay “codified and mainstreamed the cultural connotations of the word “camp” and identified camp’s evolution as a distinct aesthetic phenomenon.“
All well and good, darling, but how EXACTLY does that relate to fashion?
Says Andrew Bolton, the curator for the Costume Institute,:
“Camp is the love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration . . . style at the expense of content . . . the triumph of the epicene style—so timely with what we are going through culturally and politically that, I felt it would have a lot of cultural resonance.
”We are going through an extreme camp moment, and it felt very relevant to the cultural conversation to look at what is often dismissed as empty frivolity but can be actually a very sophisticated and powerful political tool, especially for marginalized cultures. Whether it’s pop camp, queer camp, high camp or political camp — Trump is a very camp figure — I think it’s very timely.”
“Dietrich and Garland were camp, as are Cher and Elton John,” and Bolton mentions the idea of “surplus—when things are too much” as a keynote of camp. “A bow that’s too big,” he says, “too many feathers, too many sequins.” For Bolton, Virgil Abloh’s little black dress printed with the legend “little black dress” in quotation marks is camp, and follows in the camp tradition of such designers as Franco Moschino (and Jeremy Scott for Moschino), Jean Paul Gaultier, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, John Galliano, and Thom Browne. New-generation designers like London’s Molly Goddard, Richard Quinn, and Matty Bovan; Madrid’s Palomo Spain; and New York’s Vaquera and Gypsy Sport’s Rio Uribe also trade in camp ideas. Bolton is on a roll. “Chanel was camp as a person but her clothes weren’t camp,” he explains, “whereas Schiaparelli was camp as a person and so were her clothes. You end up seeing camp everywhere!”
An extended conversation about camp’s meaning and how it applies to fashion at Vogue.
Get your camp on Monday, May 6th.