Marquee names ponder the word ‘camp’ intently


Marquee names ponder the word ‘camp’ intently

Stars stepped out for the Met Gala jamboree under the theme ‘camp’, but what exactly does that mean?

Zola Zingithwa

What is camp?
That’s the question that was on everyone’s lips after Monday’s “camp”-themed Met Gala in New York. The annual event sees guests descend upon the Metropolitan Museum of Art to raise funds for the Costume Institute. Each year the institute exhibits fashion pieces that follow a certain theme, and the opening of the 2019 exhibition was called Camp: Notes On Fashion.
The modern iteration of camp is traced back to a 1964 essay titled “Notes on ‘Camp’” by US writer and political activist Susan Sontag. In her essay, she described camp as the “love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration”.
Time magazine argues that despite the aesthetic being neither gender nor sexuality specific, it was nonetheless embraced by the LGBTQ community “as a way to ‘neutralise moral indignation’ by promoting a playful approach to that which others took seriously.”
So what does all of that mean in layman’s terms?
To quote Harper’s Bazaar, “it has everything to do with basking in the fabulousness, irony and humour of being extra”. That means different things to different people: the daring will interpret “extra”  differently to those who prefer to make as little noise as possible when it comes to fashion.
So how did the A-listers lucky enough to bag an invitation to the gala show us “artifice and exaggeration”?
Well, first there was Lady Gaga, a co-chair alongside the permanent co-chair, Vogue editor-in-chief and artistic director for Condé Nast, Anna Wintour. How did Gaga interpret camp? How can a woman who has already worn meat as a dress go the extra mile?
Three-dresses-in-one, all theatrically peeled off on the pink carpet to reveal the final lingerie and fishnet stockings look, is how Mother Monster made sure the cameras never stopped clicking with each step she took into the museum and into fashion’s history books.
How could you possibly not be astounded by performer Billy Porter’s extravagant entrance. He was carried in by six shirtless men dressed in metallic pants while he was dressed as an Egyptian Sun God – or perhaps the golden snitch, depending on which analysis you favour.
Other stars tapped into their childhoods, taking inspiration from Disney’s fairy tales. Katy Petty was inspired by Beauty and the Beast’s Lumière, with burning candles and all.
Zendaya’s Cinderella dress truly was magical (or infused with technology if you insist on being realistic) as it literally glowed while Law Roach, her stylist and date for the night, put a spell on her. She even dramatically lost her glass slipper. What more could you ask for?
Even Barbie herself showed up in the form of Kacey Musgraves!
Here are some of our other favourite looks:

This article is reserved for Times Select subscribers.
A subscription gives you full digital access to all Times Select content.

Times Select

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems?
Email or call 0860 52 52 00.