I don’t usually cover the Met Gala but there was so much breathtaking fabulosity this year plus I have been seeing some fairly ignorant memes on social media so I figured, why not?
The Met Gala is organized by the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It’s a fundraising event that was turned into social marquee extravaganza by Anna Wintour of Vogue. Every year, there is a theme, based on the institute’s new exhibition.
Further reading here.
This year the theme was “Notes on Camp”, taking off on Susan Sontag’s essay.
What is camp? Sontag says to talk of camp “to betray it”. Nevertheless, she persisted and so will I.
Sontag insists that camp is a sensibility and in that sense ineffable. It is hard to pin down its meaning, but we will try. The best illustration of camp, of course, is in its doing.
She cites Oscar Wilde:
“One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.” Camp is a mode of aestheticisation, that prioritizes form (in this case style) over content. It is not about beauty, but artifice.
Camp has a kitschy quality, so bad it’s good. It is by nature over the top. “Exaggerated”, “outlandish” are words that come to mind.
“The hallmark of Camp is the spirit of extravagance. Camp is a woman walking around in a dress made of three million feathers.”
This will explain the profusion of feathers on the Met Gala red carpet.
“One must distinguish between naïve and deliberate Camp. Pure Camp is always naive. Camp which knows itself to be Camp (“camping”) is usually less satisfying”
Thus the irony in people – especially people with a truckload of money and fashion designers at their beck and call – being asked the do camp. Yet, surprisingly, they mostly succeeded.
Further reading: Hamish Bowles musings on the theme. A Jezebel piece on why the theme sets celebrities up to fail.
And with no further ado, here are the ones I enjoyed the most:
Tom and Lorenzo pointed out that it is debatable whether Surrealism counts as camp – Sontag explicitly names Dali as not camp – but conclude that the eye that blinks clinched it in favour.
See how the eye just takes it into the “too much” territory that is definitely camp?
I heart this ensemble blinking eye camp or not.
Gaga has been doing camp for all long as she’s been on the international radar at least bit of late she had gotten kind of staid.
Here she reclaims her throne as Our Lady of Camp with three costume changes and a thousand bolts of theatricality.
Further reading: TLo on Gaga and camp.
Channeling Barbie. Nuff said.
“Camp sees everything in quotation marks. It’s not a lamp, but a ‘lamp’; not a woman, but a ‘woman.'”
“In naïve, or pure, Camp, the essential element is seriousness, a seriousness that fails. Of course, not all seriousness that fails can be redeemed as Camp. Only that which has the proper mixture of the exaggerated, the fantastic, the passionate, and the naïve.”
Camp is not trying to be ironic, but sometimes ends up being unwittingly so.
“Camp asserts that good taste is not simply good taste; that there exists, indeed, a good taste of bad taste”
“Camp is the answer to the problem: how to be a dandy in the age of mass culture.”
Androgyny is a strain of camp, as is drag as is the conversion of person to thing.
Love that so many dudes brought their A-game.
“Where the dandy would be continually offended or bored, the connoisseur of Camp is continually amused, delighted”
These ladies epitomize camp on the red carpet on a regular day but they did their best to outdo themselves.
Kylie won this round.
Who did you love?