Unofficially known as “fashion prom,” the Met Gala is one of the most anticipated red carpet events in the industry. It’s a night that not only celebrates The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute but encourages its very famous attendees to dress in accordance with the exhibit’s theme. What has resulted is an annual spectacle of the wildest, most lavish custom creations that have required weeks, if not months, to bring to life.
And with Lady Gaga and Harry Styles as co-chairs and a “Camp: Notes on Fashion” exhibit that revolves around exaggerated, campy fashion as detailed by Susan Sontag’s 1964 seminal essay ‘Notes on ‘Camp,’ we can count on celebrities and designers to deliver an even crazier parade of out-there looks this year.
But what can we expect from the exhibit itself? A curated display of the most outrageous, and at times ironic, fashion hits throughout history. There’s Björk’s infamous swan dress by Macedonian designer Marjan Pejoski, Jeremy Scott’s prosciutto dress, Balenciaga’s kitschy platform Crocs, Tomo Koizumi’s rainbow-bright cloudlike confections and so many more.
“One of my favorite quotes that I’ve come across is that ‘Camp is heroism for people not born to be heroes,’ and I always think about that when I look back at certain individuals who have worked with camp and employed it with such force of character and such strength,” said Andrew Bolton, head curator of the Costume Institute. “It’s a sort of celebration of people of the past who have been sometimes criticized because of their campish ways.”
He recalls growing up in the ’70s and ’80s when camp was looked down upon. “Boys at my school — who behave camp — were bullied in a way. I always felt they were brave because they were able to be themselves and use camp in an ironic way. So part of it is that,” Bolton said about his personal connection to the aesthetic. “And part of it is just sort of an ode to those incredibly brave people who at very right wing conservative times were able to employ camp as a political tool in a brave way.”
“Camp: Notes on Fashion” is located at the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall and will be available from May 9 to Sept. 8.
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