Met Gala theme announced for 2019 as ‘Camp: Notes on Fashion’

Lady Gaga, Serena Williams and Harry Styles will be co-chairs

Olivia Petter@oliviapetter1
Tuesday 07 May 2019 06:37
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Met Gala 2019: Pink carpet fashion

The Met Gala is one of the biggest fashion events in the calendar and calls on guests to follow a specific dress code which matches the theme of the spring exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.

Previous years have seen celebrity attendees don an array of outlandish and controversial creations, such as Madonna’s sheer jumpsuit and Rihanna’s canary yellow gown, which prompted myriad memes.

Next year’s theme, which follows this year’s contentious choice of "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination", is “Camp: Notes on Fashion” and the event will be co-chaired by Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, Serena Williams and Gucci’s Alessandro Michele.

The exhibition, curated by Andrew Bolton and Wendy Yu, is framed around Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay titled Notes on "Camp" which describes the concept as a “love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration… style at the expense of content.”

While there is no clear definition of what constitutes as “camp”, Sontag found it in an array of cultural references, from Flash Gordon comics and Busby Berkeley movies to chinoiserie and the Art Nouveau movement.

It has since become synonymous with an avant-garde theatrical aesthetic, which manifests in fashion via heavy in bright colours and intricate patterns.

According to Vogue’s Hamish Bowles, it’s a style that has been encapsulated by Gucci since Michele took over as creative director in 2015, hence why the Italian designer has been appointed as one of the event’s co-chairs.

"We are going through an extreme camp moment,” Bolton tells The New York Times, “and it felt very relevant to the cultural conversation to look at what is often dismissed as empty frivolity but can be actually a very sophisticated and powerful political tool, especially for marginalised cultures.

"Whether it's pop camp, queer camp, high camp or political camp - Trump is a very camp figure - I think it's very timely."

There will be a total of 175 pieces in the exhibition, which will include a mix of menswear and womenswear and works of art relating to the theme.

Divided into two parts, the exhibit will initially present the origins of camp as a concept, which Bolton finds in the Stonewall riots and its use in the LGBT community.

Then it will move on to examine how camp has influenced mainstream fashion, cropping up in collections by Balenciaga, Prada and Vetements in addition to Gucci, of course.

“Sontag in her essay said not everything is camp, but since I have been working on the show, I have started to think it is everywhere, and that all fashion is on some level camp,” Bolton said, adding that his aim with the exhibition is to show the world just how ubiquitous the concept is.

The gala will take place on 6 May and will be hosted by Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue and artistic director of Condé Nast, who handpicks a number of celebrity co-chairs each year.

Wintour's selection of Michele is fairly obvious - Bowles has said the exhibition is “made possible by Gucci” - as is the choice of Styles, who has fronted two major campaigns for the Italian fashion house and regularly wears the brand on tour.

The same could be said for Lady Gaga, who was renowned for a number of eccentric outfits (including one made out of raw beef and another made from “bubbles”) which defined her sartorial identity in her early career.

Aside from recently fronting the cover of Vogue, Wintour’s choice to include Williams in the line-up of quirky style mavericks is not entirely clear.

But considering some of the most notable fashion moments at the Met Gala are those that have been almost entirely unexpected, the tennis champion’s inclusion is no bad thing.

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