Camp: Notes on Fashion: Metropolitan Museum

One of the most anticipated fashion exhibitions annually is the Costume Institute’s spring show at the Metropolitan Museum, New York. The 2019 iteration, Camp: Notes on Fashion – on show from May 9 until September 8, 2019 – explores the origins of camp’s exuberant aesthetic and how the sensibility evolved from a place of marginality to become an important influence on mainstream culture. Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay ‘Notes on “Camp”’ provides the framework for the exhibition, which will examine how fashion designers have used their métier as a vehicle to engage with camp in a myriad of compelling, humorous and sometimes incongruous ways. The exhibition features approximately 200 objects, including womenswear and menswear, as well as sculptures, paintings and drawings dating from the 17th century to the present. The show’s opening gambit positions Versailles as a “camp Eden” and addresses the concept of se camper – “to posture boldly” – in the royal courts of Louis XIV and Louis XV. Camp explores the dandy as a “camp ideal” and traces camp’s origins to the queer subcultures of Europe and America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The largest section of the exhibition will be devoted to how these elements – which include irony, humour, parody, pastiche, artifice, theatricality and exaggeration – are expressed in fashion.


Prefer a hard copy? Visit our subscription page to purchase single printed back issues.