The annual benefit of the Metropolitan Art Museum’s Costume Institute, otherwise more widely known as the MET Gala, delivered yet again one of the most photographed red carpet event of the year. A cavalcade of celebrities, meticulously selected by none other than artistic director for Condé Nast, editor-in-chief of American Vogue, and event co-chair Anna Wintour, paraded into the exhibition in their interpretations of this year’s theme “Camp”. The debates on who wore what best, and perhaps more importantly who successfully pulled off the theme are being raged by talking heads and fashion observers in media outlets all over the world. Was it Katy Perry in the Moschino chandelier dress? Was it Janelle Monae in the surreal Christian Siriano gown? Was it The Blonds-outfitted Billy Porter reclined on a divan and carried into the party by Broadway actors? Or was it either Joan Collins or Cher whose very defiance at being bothered to try further cements their reputations as camp’s most precious living embodiments? That Camp itself is resistant to a digestible definition is why interpretation is elusive and it’s been the subject of attempts by the most learned cultural icons from Christopher Isherwood to Susan Sontag.
The gala is of course just the prelude to the actual exhibition “Camp: Notes on Fashion” (on view through September 8, 2019) organized by Andrew Bolton, Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute; with Karen Van Godtsenhoven, Associate Curator; and Amanda Garfinkel, Assistant Curator. Jan Versweyveld created the exhibition design with The Met’s Design Department, and consulted on the gala décor with Raul Avila, who has produced the décor since 2007. As in some previous exhibitions, headdresses were specially created for the exhibition by Stephen Jones.
The exhibition explores camp’s exuberant aesthetic through fashion and its evolution from marginality to becoming an influence on mainstream culture. Featured are designs from Giorgio Armani (for Armani Privé); Christopher Bailey (for Burberry); Cristóbal Balenciaga; Thom Browne; Sarah Burton (for Alexander McQueen); Jean-Charles de Castelbajac; Antonio del Castillo (for Lanvin-Castillo); Christian Dior; John Galliano (for Maison Margiela, House of Dior, and John Galliano); Jean Paul Gaultier; Nicolas Ghesquière (for Louis Vuitton); Bertrand Guyon (for House of Schiaparelli); Christopher Kane; Patrick Kelly; Christian Lacroix; Karl Lagerfeld (for House of Chanel and Chloé); Rei Kawakubo (for Comme des Garçons); Bob Mackie; Martin Margiela; Alexander McQueen (for Givenchy); Edward Molyneux; Erdem Moralioglu (for Erdem); Franco Moschino; Thierry Mugler; Alejandro Goméz Palomo (for Palomo Spain); Paul Poiret; Gareth Pugh; Zandra RhodesYves Saint Laurent; Elsa Schiaparelli; Jeremy Scott (for Moschino and Jeremy Scott); Hedi Slimane (for Saint Laurent); Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren (for Viktor & Rolf); Anna Sui; Philip Treacy; Walter Van Beirendonck; Gianni Versace; and Vivienne Westwood