Camp Notes on Fashion: The Met Gala 2019 Theme & Spring Exhibition

The Met Costume Institute will explore camp’s exuberant aesthetic in their Spring 2019 exhibition, Camp: Notes on Fashion. As you read the word camp visions of green, nature-friendly clothing may pop into your head. But if you know the Costume Institute you are probably wondering what kind of camp are they actually referring to!

Jeremy Scott for House of Moschino at the met costume institute camp notes on fashion exhibition
Jeremy Scott (American, born 1975) for House of Moschino (Italian, founded 1983). Dress, spring/summer 2017.
Source: Courtesy of The Met via Moschino. Photo © Johnny Dufort, 2019

The Exhibition “Camp: Notes on Fashion”

Andrew Bolton curated the exhibition (and thus Met Gala 2019 theme!) around Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay “Notes on ‘Camp'”. Sontag is not referring to outdoor camping! Her essay is about camp as “‘a seriousness that fails,’ as the ‘taste for the androgynous,’ as ‘the love of the unnatural’ and of ‘the exaggerated.’ Something with ambitions of greatness that ends up going too far”, explains the narrator in The Met’s video preview about the exhibition.

The essay, and in turn the Costume Institute’s exhibition, examines how the elements of “irony, humor, parody, pastiche, artifice, theatricality and exaggeration are expressed in fashion”, writes The Met.

The goal of this exhibition is to explore the mainstream culture and every creative aspect within its roots. It will present over 250 objects and not just from fashion. The exhibit will include womenswear and menswear, sculptures, paintings, and drawings from the 17th-century to the present.

Alessandro Michele for Gucci at the met costume institute camp notes on fashion exhibition
Alessandro Michele (Italian, born 1972) for Gucci (Italian, founded 1921). Ensemble, fall/winter 2016–17.
Source: Courtesy of The Met via Gucci Historical Archive. Photo © Johnny Dufort, 2018

The luxury Italian brand Gucci is making the exhibition possible. Creative Director, Alexandro Michele, says that Sontag’s essay “perfectly expresses what camp truly means to me: the unique ability of combining high art and pop culture”.

Jeremy Scott for House of Moschino at the met costume institute camp notes on fashion exhibition
Jeremy Scott (American, born 1975) for House of Moschino (Italian, founded 1983). Ensemble, spring/summer 2018.
Source: Courtesy of The Met via Moschino. Photo © Johnny Dufort, 2019
Alejandro Gómez Palomo for Palomo Spain at the met costume institute camp notes on fashion exhibition
Alejandro Gómez Palomo (Spanish, born 1992) for Palomo Spain (Spanish, founded 2015). Wedding ensemble, spring/summer 2018.
Source: Courtesy of The Met via Palomo Spain. Photo © Johnny Dufort, 2019

Camp at the Met Gala 2019

On May 6th the infamous Met Gala will focus on the theme of the new Spring exhibition. The event co-chairs will be Lady Gaga, Alessandro Michele, Harry Styles, Serena Williams, and Anna Wintour.


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We can’t wait to see all the wild gowns which appear on the Met Gala 2019 red carpet. Surely the star-studded list of attendees will take full advantage of the theatrical and flamboyant opportunities the Camp theme provides!

Camp: Notes on Fashion officially opens May 9th and runs through September 8th, 2019 at The Met Fifth Avenue location.

Words by Rita Archer

floor screen with brass butterflies by koket

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