What is camp? One may never really know the answer—and maybe its hard-to-grasp sensibility is the very definition of it.

Image result for met gala 2019 outfit

Zendaya dressed as Cinderella in a light-up Tommy Hilfiger dress at the 2019 Met Gala. Her stylist, Law Roach, dressed as her fairy godmother and carried a wand to light up her dress. Photo courtesy of Getty Images, 2019.

The word ‘camp’ traces  back to the French verb se camper, meaning to strike an exaggerated pose, its origin also sprouting from the exuberant attitude of the French court under Louis XIV. 

Photo courtesy of The Louvre Museum. 


With the "Camp: Notes on Fashion" exhibition in the museum’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall ending this month, Andrew Bolton, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute, celebrates the various definitions of this complex aesthetic.

Video courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2019.

Susan Sontag's 1964 essay "Notes on 'Camp'" was a basis for the exhibition's concept and of course their most awaited event of the year: the Met Gala. Bolton describes Sontag's definition of camp as “love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration...style at the expense of content...the triumph of the epicene style”. 

The Camp: Notes on Fashion Exhibition Catalogue. Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2019.


Camp: Notes on Fashion exhibition catalogue is available at the Met Store and on Amazon.

Leave a comment