Using the late essayist and critic Susan Sontag’s classic “Notes on ‘Camp’” as a framework, for Camp: Notes on Fashion The Met‘s Costume Institute head Andrew Bolton pulled 175 pieces, from the 17th century to the present, to explore what Sontag called
“a certain mode of aestheticism”.
The “Camp” exhibition is in two parts.
The first traces the growth of camp from the court of Louis XIV, through Molière and the Duc d’Orléans, all the way into the devilish world of Christopher Isherwood’s 1930s underground Berlin.
The second part looks at wit, irony, humour and pastiche in fashion, with dresses by designers including Viktor & Rolf and Elsa Schiaparelli, and of course the work of Gucci’s Alessandro Michele, who is hosting the benefit.
In an article in Out, Bolton says that Sontag “alludes” to homosexuality in her essay, but her explanation of camp is more aesthetic than social. Bolton says,
“When I was growing up, camp was still very much associated with effeminate behavior. Now, I wonder what a teenager or a person in their young twenties would say. I think that Kim Kardashian West is camp. J. Lo is camp. They’re larger than life versions of themselves.
Camp is principally a language. And it’s an especially empowering language, at that.”
Camp: Notes on Fashion, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, runs from May–8 September. The Met Ball (The Super Bowl of fashion) is TONIGHT, Monday, May 6.
“Category is: Camp Realness”
Hello?! If anybody knows Camp, it’s DRAG QUEENS. At least ONE Drag Race alum better be on that red carpet tomorrow to show these fashion bitches how it’s done, or this ain’t runway Camp, it’s the sleep-away kind.
(Photos, courtesy The Met, Johnny Dufort, 2018 ; via Sotheby’s)