Met Gala 2019, Camp: Notes on Fashion, Susan Sontag, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art

blog | 06.05.2019

Camp: Notes on Fashion - Unpacking the 2019 Met Gala theme


6 May 2019
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Less than 24 hours out from what’s arguably the most important night on the fashion calendar, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is getting ready to host their annual gala, known more commonly as the Met Gala.

The benefit raises money for the Met’s Costume Institute in New York and provides a breeding ground for celebrities, designers and socialites alike to parade extravagant interpretations of the annual theme, all in an effort to out-do one another.

In a society that’s become so infatuated with making their mark on the world, this year’s Met Gala theme, Camp: Notes on Fashion, couldn’t come at a more relevant time.

Previous themes have included last year’s Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, 2016’s Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, 2014’s Charles James: Beyond Fashion and 2009’s The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion. All of which, have certainly played host to a slew of good, bad and, more often than not, ugly ensembles.

PUBLISHED IN 1964, SUSAN SONTAG’S ESSAY NOTES ON “CAMP” EXPLORES THE CONCEPT OF CAMP, WHICH SONTAG DEFINES AS “THE ESSENCE OF CAMP IS ITS LOVE OF THE UNNATURAL: OF ARTIFICE AND EXAGGERATION.”

IN 58 POINTS, SONTAG CONTINUES TO DESCRIBE AND EXPLAIN WHO AND WHAT IS CAMP, HOW CAMP WORKS, AND HOW ONE CAN EMBODY CAMP.

“THE WHOLE POINT OF CAMP IS TO DETHRONE THE SERIOUS. CAMP IS PLAYFUL, ANTI-SERIOUS,” SHE EXPLAINS.

“CAMP IS A WOMAN WALKING AROUND IN A DRESS MADE OF THREE MILLION FEATHERS.”

BASICALLY, CAMP CELEBRATES ALL THINGS OVER-THE-TOP, IT’S ENTERTAINING, IRONIC, EXCESSIVE, TACKY, AND YET, SO, SO, GOOD. LIKE WATCHING MICHAEL SCOTT HOST THE DUNDIE AWARDS, IT’S NOT EASY TO WATCH, BUT EVEN HARDER TO LOOK AWAY.

“CAMP IS A VISION OF THE WORLD IN TERMS OF STYLE – BUT A PARTICULAR KIND OF STYLE,” SAYS SONTAG, “IT IS THE LOVE OF THE EXAGGERATED THE ‘OFF,’ OF THINGS-BEING-WHAT-THEY-ARE-NOT.”

WHAT WE HOPE TO SEE IS OUTRAGEOUS AND ABSURD ENSEMBLES, LOOK TO SARAH JESSICA PARKER’S 2013 PUNK LOOK, CARDI B’S 2018 HEAVENLY BODIES LOOK, LADY GAGA’S 2018 VENICE FILM FESTIVAL VALENTINO DRESS OR ANY OF VOGUE’S OWN HAMISH BOWLE’S MET GALA OUTFITS FOR INSPO.

WHAT WE FEAR IS MEDIOCRITY. CELEBS AND A-LISTERS OPTING FOR MINIMALIST INTERPRETATIONS AS OPPOSED TO FULLY EMBRACING THE THEME, FOR FEAR OF CRITICISM OR CONTROVERSY. A FEAR, SONTAG ENSURES, IS NOT CAMP.

“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.”

KEY DESIGNERS AT THE CORE OF THE CAMP THEME INCLUDE ALEXANDER MCQUEEN, ATTICO, ALESSANDRA RICH, BALENCIAGA, COMME DES GARCONS, DRIES VAN NOTEN, ERDEM, SAINT LAURENT, THOM BROWNE, TOM FORD AND STELLA MCCARTNEY.

SHOP THEIR SPRING SUMMER 2019 COLLECTIONS IN-STORES NOW.