The Met Costume Institute’s 2019 Exhibition

The Met Costume Institute has unveiled a pink-hued exhibition exploring camp fashion across the centuries, from the playful to the outrageous.

Camp: Notes on Fashion opened last week, following The Met Gala on Monday. Camp was chosen as the theme, thanks to the rising trend for deliberately exaggerated and theatrical fashion.

“We are experiencing a resurgence of camp,” said Andrew Bolton, chief curator for the Met Costume Institute.

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Camp: Notes on Fashion responds to the rising trend for theatrical fashion

Although usually associated with LGBT culture, the word camp describes anything that is intentionally ostentatious or excessively effeminate.

The show features meandering exhibition spaces, all coloured in a vivid shade of pink.

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Exhibition spaces are coloured in a vivid shade of pink.

Glass vitrines display objects from The Met’s collection with a camp sensibility, including sculptures, paintings and drawings dating from the 17th century to the present. There are also 140 fashion ensembles on show.

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An echo chamber features quotes from Susan Sontag, who made camp go mainstream.

Guiding the entire exhibition is Susan Sontag’s seminal 1964 essay, Notes on Camp, which describes camp as an aesthetic. The work was so influential that it catapulted the word camp into mainstream culture.

The essay features at the start of the exhibition, in a study of the etymology and origins of camp. Another installation displays Sontag’s 58 principles of camp, which include irony, humour, parody, pastiche, artifice, theatricality and exaggeration.

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This dark, double-height room is filled with examples of camp fashion.

This dark, double-height room is filled with colourful glass-fronted boxes containing examples of camp fashion, with titles like Gender without Genitals, and Dandyism in the Age of Mass Culture.

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Layered audio snippets create an echo-chamber effect. Many of these are Sontag’s original quotes, spoken by prolific fashion designers, and overlaid with interjections of Judy Garland singing Over the Rainbow.

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Exhibits include a three-headed flamingo headpiece by Stephen Jones.

Camp’s disruptive nature and subversion of modern aesthetic values has often been trivialised, but this exhibition reveals that it has had a profound influence on both high art and popular culture,” said Max Hollein, director of The Met Costume Institute.

See Also: What to Expect From The 2019 Met Gala

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By tracing its evolution and highlighting its defining elements, the show embodies the ironic sensibilities of this audacious style, challenges conventional understandings of beauty and taste, and establishes the critical role that this important genre has played in the history of art and fashion.”

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Susan Sontag’s seminal 1964 essay, Notes on Camp, frames other parts of the exhibition.

The exhibit continues with more art relating to Versailles, the royal courts of Louis XIV and Louis XV, and objects exploring the figure of the dandy.

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It starts with art from Versailles, the royal courts of Louis XIV and Louis XV of France.

The exhibit then traces camp’s origins to the queer subcultures of Europe and America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Designers featured include Vivienne WestwoodKarl LagerfeldChanel, ErdemJeremy Scott and Maison Margiela. Also included are outfits worn by Anglo-Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde, who is inextricably linked to the image of the effeminate aristocrat.

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There is also a display dedicated to artist Andy Warhol.

The Met Costume Institute organises a spring exhibition every year. Last year’s, Heavenly Bodies, was themed on religion, while others have included a retrospective of Comme des Garcons founder Rei Kuwakabo, a study of handcraft and machine production, and an exploration of China.

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Sontag’s words also crop up again in an echo chamber that concludes the show.

Camp: Notes on Fashion opens to the public on 9 May 2019 and runs until 8 September 2019 on the Met Costume Institute.

Stay with us to learn more about the Met Costume Institute and more!

See Also: What to Expect From The 2019 Met Gala

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