Get in loser, we’re going camping!
We’re camping out for the 2019 Met Gala
The 2019 Met Gala is imminent and we are all but camping out for what will certainly be its most iconic year yet! Just in case you’re unfamiliar, the Met Gala is considered the Oscars of fashion; a breeding ground for iconic celebrity looks. It’s the time of year when all the fashion girls, boys, and wannabes get to go all out with their looks, shamelessly. Ever since the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced this year’s exhibition theme, the Internet has been buzzing with excitement! Framed by Susan Sontag’s influential 1964 essay, Notes on “Camp,” this year’s theme is Camp: Notes on Fashion. All excitement aside, this begs the question… what is ‘Camp’? Much to the chagrin of counselors and campers alike, the 2019 Met Gala will not be a red carpet full of Soffee shorts, lanyards, and bonfire sing alongs.
So, what should we expect from this year’s event? First, we must understand the meaning of ‘camp,’ and why is it influential enough to be the theme of fashion’s biggest night. Pitch a tent on this page, keep reading, and we’ll break down everything you need to know about Camp and the upcoming 2019 Met Gala.
Notes on “Camp”
Let’s start with Susan Sontag’s seminal essay that inspired the entire theme of this year’s red carpet. Sontag provided the most-cited definition of camp in her 1964 essay, saying, “the essence of Camp is its love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration.” (Essentially everything fashion and beauty has embodied over the past few years)
To reiterate, Camp is an aesthetic style and sensibility that appreciates the ironic value of ‘bad taste’, frivolity, and shocking excess. She also penned 58 “jottings” about Camp in her essay. Since there’s nothing better than learning from the source, here are some choice excerpts from Sontag to help set the scene:
24. When something is just bad (rather than Camp), it’s often because it is too mediocre in its ambition. The artist hasn’t attempted to do anything really outlandish. (“It’s too much,” “It’s too fantastic,” “It’s not to be believed,” are standard phrases of Camp enthusiasm.)
25. The hallmark of Camp is the spirit of extravagance. Camp is a woman walking around in a dress made of three million feathers.
41. The whole point of Camp is to dethrone the serious. Camp is playful, anti-serious. More precisely, Camp involves a new, more complex relation to “the serious.” One can be serious about the frivolous, frivolous about the serious.
55. Camp taste is, above all, a mode of enjoyment, of appreciation—not judgment. Camp is generous. It wants to enjoy.
58. The ultimate Camp statement: it’s good because it’s awful… Of course, one can’t always say that. Only under certain conditions.
The relevancy of Camp
Truly, this year’s theme could not be more timely. Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute, explained, “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.”
And, the influence of Camp on modern fashion is not easily ignored. Just take a look at the work of Donatella Versace, Marc Jacobs, or Jeremy Scott. Right on the border of Kitschy and just plain bad, the over-the-top impact of Camp is quite obvious.
Take one of today’s hottest trends for example: the dad sneaker. It took some time for the masses to come around, but these purposefully-ugly kicks are the essence of camp. Their garish designs and extravagantly chunky silhouettes would often be looked over as poor taste; however, as Susan Sontag mentioned herself in #58 – it’s good because it’s awful.
The event, underwritten by Alessandro Michele of Gucci and led by Anna Wintour, will be co-chaired by Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, and Serena Williams.
What to expect at the 2019 Met Gala
So, who do you think will go the extra mile and actually arrive in ‘a dress made of three million feathers’?
Nailing the Camp aesthetic is undoubtedly tricky, so it’s difficult to envision the looks we’ll see on the Met Gala red carpet on May 6th. Perhaps our favorite celebs will take inspiration from these recent(ish) Campy red carpet looks…
Bjork’s swan dress: an iconic moment in Camp history
Cardi B happy as a clam in vintage Mugler couture
Cher: the human embodiment of Camp
Lady Gaga’s meat dress: confirmed Camp
Rule of thumb: Jeremy Scott/Moschino = Camp
Hopefully you have a better idea of what we’ll see on the 2019 Met Gala red carpet. Lady Gaga and Bjork have already set the bar quite high – who do you think will go above and beyond?