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May 6, 2019 at 6:32 am #1202882291
Today is the first Monday in May which means its the Met Gala
Expect to see a truly outrageous and over-the-top red carpet this year. The theme of the Met’s 2019 Costume Exhibition is “Camp: Notes on Fashion.” No, not camp as in sleeping bags and tents, but camp as in exaggerated fashion. The exhibit is inspired by Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay that defines camp as “love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration.”
Camp fashion can be humorous, ironic, or simply extreme in its nature, meaning you can already expect Lady Gaga and Rihanna to slay this year’s red carpet.
Colloquially and affectionately referred to as “fashion’s biggest night out,” the Met Gala 2019 is a pinnacle of iconic style. A fundraising benefit for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the event welcomes celebrity stars, young creatives, and industry paragons alike. And the excitement doesn’t stop there—the gala also signifies the highly anticipated grand opening of the Costume Institute’s annual fashion exhibition: “Camp: Notes on Fashion” opening on May 9, 2019.
So here is a thread to talk about the Red carpet , the theme and if anyone is lucky enough the actually exhibit.
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Article about the pre met gala party which took place last night
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here is Lady Gaga last night wearing Marc Jacobs
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What is camp? Listen, if you haven’t figured it out by now—maybe you never will! Over the past two months, one trillion lists and listicles have been written on camp, stabbing at the idea of artifice and style and exaggeration. Andrew Bolton, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute and the effective arbiter of all things campy, sees these many definitions as the epitome of camp itself. “I think one of the defining elements of camp are the lists that people keep providing,” he says. “The endless list is, finally, the definite mark of camp.”
In the exhibition “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” which opens in the museum’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall on May 9, Bolton provides his own definitions for camp. He starts with a bit of history in the show’s first galleries, which he describes as “kind of serious, apart from the bright pink walls.” Here, the etymological history of the word camp is explored through historic objects, fashion, and art. Camp as a verb is the first usage, in Molière’s 1671 play The Adventures of Scapin—an original copy of the play is displayed in a glass vitrine with a tiny figure of Scapin. Alongside fashion from Erdem’s Spring 2019 collection, you can read about camp as an adjective used in the 19th century as a code for homosexuality. Later, Oscar Wilde appears beside definitions of camp as a noun. Then Christopher Isherwood’s writings on high and low camp, and finally viewers will walk into a checklist-like square gallery where some of the 58 bullets from Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay “Notes on Camp” are illustrated with items from the museum’s collection. If this sounds deadly serious and, like, totally not camp—pay closer attention to the details.
The exhibition opens with a small statue of Antonis, Hadrian’s lover, that shows the Greek with his hips cocked into a sinuous contrapposto pose, which Bolton calls the “archetypical camp pose.” Around that gallery are photographs from Robert Mappelthorpe, Thomas Eakins, and Hal Fischer of nude male bodies. Bolton recommends you walk to the back of the gallery, towards a painting of Louis XIV in the contrapposto pose, and pivoting to face the entrance. “When you turn around here, Steff,” he pauses to let out a laugh, “it’s just a series of bums!” Later, in the Sontag room, you’ll find a deliciously explicit Aubrey Beardsley drawing that comes with its own parental warning. The feather dresses that spin on an elevated platform later in the fashion gallery are complemented by duck bills by Stephen Jones.
This cheekiness is crucial to understanding camp. In hand with pastiche, theatricality, and irony, it’s become the dominating mode of communication in contemporary culture. That’s part of the reason Bolton wanted to follow up last year’s blockbuster exhibition, “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” with a treatise on camp. “I think we’re going through a really high camp moment, not just in fashion, but in culture in general. I think that even though camp has become mainstream, it’s never lost its ability to be subversive,” he explains. “When you look in history, there are moments when camp is really the defining aesthetic of its time: the ’60s, the ’80s, now. I think it’s always in times where there are radical political and cultural shifts, so I do think that camp does respond and reflect the zeitgeist. I think it’s very much connected to politics. Camp has always been a political aesthetic, and you can’t take the politics out of the aesthetic, particularly with camp. It was really, we felt, a timely exhibition.” (May the record show, the papal effect is lingering. “It was really hard not to put any popes in here, you know?” he winks. “Papal camp.”)
What’s more, the runways have become positively overwrought with glitz and pastiche of late. “When designers who aren’t camp start [using camp], that’s when you think: This is a phenomenon,” Bolton begins. “Jeremy [Scott], Marc [Jaocbs], Anna Sui, Thom [Browne], they’ve always deployed the camp aesthetic. Armani, not so much,” he continues signaling to an Armani couture feathered cape in the shape of a flamingo. “I think when designers who aren’t camp start employing it, that’s when you think: It’s here. We’re going through a camp moment.”
Bolton is quick to say that all fashion is camp, making the task of selecting the 150 items in this year’s exhibition pleasantly “exhausting.” “We started off by focusing on designers who have consistently employed that aesthetic, people like Jeremy Scott, Vivienne Westwood, Walter Van Bierendonck, Jean Paul Gaultier, Mugler, Thom Browne, Marc Jacobs, Anna Sui, Rei Kawakubo,” he says. They’re paired with 18 quotes from Sontag and other post-Sontagian scholars of camp in the exhibition’s final, jewel box-like gallery of modern fashion. The established campers are joined by younger talents like Molly Goddard, Vaquera, and Tomo Koizumi, as well as by a color-coded accessory display at the center of the room featuring a shower head necklace by Karl Lagerfeld for Chloé and Demna Gvasalia’s Balenciaga Crocs. “Accessories are camp in themselves,” Bolton says. “They’re sort of extensions and in a way distillations of the fashions. It was important to show them because accessories are such a vehicle for novelty and whimsy so they’re great carriers of the camp aesthetic. I didn’t want them to be secondary to the fashions, I wanted them to be equal in status.”
Between the historical galleries and this fanciful display of fabulous fashion, Bolton has given viewers the tools to understand camp. But camp is, ultimately, a “you can bring a queen to the ball but you can’t make her vogue” kind of proposition. Not everyone will “get” it. In an essay in the exhibition’s catalogue, the scholar Fabio Cleto describes camp as “camp exists in the pun and metaphor of spectacles—as the show and its frame, what is seen and what enables seeing.” Camp is the lens and what you see through it—or for our younger readers: both the filter and the selfie you take with it. It’s “a history of gazes” and “a means of taste consumption.” It’s exuberance in the face of peril. It’s Jayne Mansfield and Baby Jane Holzer. It’s—Bolton’s favorite definition—failed seriousness.
So we’re back where we began: What is camp? Just asking that question is the point. “The whole point of [the fashion] gallery is that it’s a series of statements that Sontag and post-Sontagian scholars of camp have tried to define camp. We’ve grouped them together under 18 headings, but it’s sort of like an echo chamber, deliberately so,” Bolton says. “We end with the Moschino question mark.” He opens a notebook to quote Cleto, “ ‘Camp is a question mark that won’t let its line be straightened up into an exclamation mark.’ I want people to leave thinking, ‘What is camp?’ That is the power and the poetry behind camp, constantly trying to define it.”
interview with Andrew Bolton
Check out my online store 🙂May 6, 2019 at 10:28 am #1202882586
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