Just when you thought the Met Gala red carpet couldn’t get any crazier, the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute on Tuesday announced the theme of its upcoming fashion exhibition: camp, as in all things campy in fashion.
Sponsoring the show will be none other than Gucci, the luxury brand that designer Alessandro Michele has taken to outrageous heights with the help of such collaborators as Elton John and Dapper Dan, by putting human heads, balaclavas, Paramount Pictures logos, New York Yankees team jerseys and more on his costumey runways.
Titled “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” the exhibition will run May 9-Sept. 8, 2019, and is inspired by cultural critic Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay “Notes on Camp,” which posited different ways the concept can be construed, according to the announcement published on Vogue.com. Sontag argued that camp is the “love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration…style at the expense of content…the triumph of the epicene style,” explains the exhibition’s curator Andrew Bolton.
It’s a concept that certainly has been resonating in society lately, whether you are looking at the political ascendance of reality show star turned president Donald Trump (due to be visited by Kanye West in the White House on Thursday, natch), the rise of social media “stars” vying to out peacock each other on all platforms, or the success of fashion brands like Gucci and Balenciaga, which thrive on exaggeration to the point that runway show-goers sometimes wonder if they are being punked.
For Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele, Sontag’s essay “perfectly expresses what camp truly means to me: the unique ability of combining high art and pop culture.”
The exhibition will feature approximately 175 objects, including men’s and women’s fashion, sculptures, paintings and drawings dating from the 17th century to the present, including positioning the court of Versailles as “camp Eden,” and addressing the concept of se camper (“to posture boldly” or pose) in the royal courts of Louis XIV and Louis XV. It will also address camp’s origins in queer subcultures dating back to the late 19th century, and explore how irony, humor, parody and exaggeration are expressed in fashion.
Designers whose works will be featured include Thom Browne, Demna Gvasalia, Marc Jacobs, Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano, Stephen Jones, Thierry Mugler, Rudi Gernreich, Franco Moschino, Miuccia Prada, Elsa Schiaparelli, Viktor & Rolf, Vivienne Westwood, Gianni and Donatella Versace and Michele.
I can’t wait to see how the Hollywood and fashion guests at the first-Monday-in-May gala top this year’s “Heavenly Bodies” red carpet, where they came dressed as saints, sinners, angels and even a female Pope. Co-chairs of the May 6 event will be Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, Serena Williams, Gucci’s Michele and Vogue’s Anna Wintour. Let the camp trip begin.