Camp: Notes on Fashion

Exhibition Website

May 9 2019 - Sep 8 2019

The Costume Institute's spring 2019 exhibition will explore the origins of the camp aesthetic, and how it has 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. 

Sonntag identified 58 ways to define the concept. Camp is “love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration,” she wrote, “style at the expense of content.”   “The ultimate Camp statement: it’s good because it’s awful.”

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website

Images: LEFT: An Alessandro Michele for Gucci ensemble. Right: Spring 2016 Marc Jacobs ensembles. Photos by Johnny Dufort, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Whether or not you go, the exhibition catalog, CAMP: Notes on Fashion, explores the meaning of camp and its expression in fashion from its origins to today. Although an elusive concept, “camp” can be found in most forms of artistic expression, revealing itself through an aesthetic of deliberate stylization. Fashion is one of the most overt and enduring conduits of the camp aesthetic. As a site for the playful dynamics between high art and popular culture, fashion both embraces and expresses such camp modes of enactment as irony, humor, parody, pastiche, artifice, theatricality, and exaggeration.  Drawing from Susan Sontag’s seminal essay “Notes on Camp,” the book explores how fashion designers have used their métier as a vehicle to engage with the camp aesthetic in compelling, humorous, and sometimes incongruous ways. As a sartorial manifestation of the camp sensibility, this thought-provoking publication contributes new theoretical and conceptual insights into the camp canon through texts and images. Stunning new photography.

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  • Costume
  • Culture / Lifestyle

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