One of the most important days in the fashion world: the Met Gala. It is anticipated every year to see the biggest names in pop culture dress extravagantly according to that year’s costume exhibition theme at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Last year, the controversial theme “Heavenly Bodies” surrounded Catholicism and religion, with guests arriving in some of the most incredible pieces fashion has ever seen. After seeing literal angels walk the carpet, the theme for 2019 couldn’t have been announced soon enough … “Camp: Notes on Fashion.” ¯
So what exactly does that mean? Well for one thing, no, celebrities aren’t going to be showing up sporting tents and hiking boots. The term “camp” is a reference to writer Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay “Notes on Camp,” a piece that has inspired many in the fashion industry.
Andrew Bolton, the curator that runs the Costume Institute explains in Vogue that camp embraces elements that include “irony, humor, parody, pastiche, artifice, theatricality, excess, extravagance, nostalgia and exaggeration.”¯
In short, camp can be represented by anything over the top and exaggerated in pop culture — think Rocky Horror Picture Show, Cher and even Trump.
The co-chairs for the event are perfect for the occasion: Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, Serena Williams, Anna Wintour and Gucci’s creative director, Alessandro Michele. With Lady Gaga known for wearing anything from raw meat to spikes all over her body and Harry Styles as the new face of genderless fashion, you can expect the looks to be anything but boring come the first Monday in May.
Bolton says it’s likely to see, “a bow that’s too big, too many feathers, too many sequins,” — essentially, anything that is “too much” and over the top. However, it’s not all going to be crazy — there is a good chance there will be the same elegance we saw last year. Bolton traced the roots of the word “camp” to find that it stems from the French verb “se camper,” which means “to strike an exaggerated pose.” This term first came up in the 18th century with Louis XIV’s obsession for everything to be extravagantly beautiful.
We see this today in Gucci, being credited as a modern “campy” brand along with Moschino and the designs of Jean Paul Gaultier. These fashion giants are not afraid to push boundaries, and to them, the bigger and bolder, the better.
This year, the guests will have many options to follow the theme and it will be interesting to see how each guest curates their “campiest” look on May 6.