Inside the Met’s Camp Exhibit

Unless you live a life of hermitage, I’m sure by now you’ve seen, were amazed by, perplexed by, and perhaps shook by the looks that graced the red carpet of this year’s Met Gala. I mean, Katy Perry showed up as a chandelier… The Met Gala took place on May 6, a little over a month ago, but if you’re at all still confused by this event, you’re not alone. First, let’s start with the purpose of the Met Gala. What on earth brings together hordes of celebrities dressed in over the top and often ridiculous outfits? The event serves as an annual fundraiser for the Costume Institute’s new exhibition each year on a changing theme. In other words, the event is in support of the arts, and this year, a seat at the gala was worth $30,000. It doesn’t take a calculator to know that a hell of a lot of money was raised!


Image via standard.co.uk

Now what’s with the whole camp thing? Roughing and toughing it out in the woods isn’t necessarily most peoples’ idea of glamour. Thanks to a kind friend, I just recently got to see the Camp Exhibition at the Met, so I feel fairly well equipped to explain. Camp derives from the French word se camper, which means “to flaunt”. Makes a little more sense, right? But camp is a verb, adjective, and noun, so the manifestation of the word is a little more complicated to nail down. As you make your way through the camp exhibit, you’ll be immersed in pink walls holding historic looks that embody the meaning of camp and explanations of how the word has evolved over time (please don’t judge my photography skills…it was crowded 😬).



Author Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay, “Notes on ‘Camp’” seeks to identify the many different meanings of the word camp, and serves as a keystone for the exhibit. She explains that camp is a way of seeing the world as an aesthetic phenomenon...aka go all out, do it up! This theme certainly permeates the exhibit, as over-the-top looks from brands like Moschino, Gucci, and Versace are littered throughout.

The end of the exhibit is the real kicker. You’ll find yourself in a dim room bordered with colorful, glowing installments that feature designs representing how the elements of camp - irony, humor, parody, artifice, theatricality, and exaggeration – have been represented through fashion. While viewing these incredible pieces, you’ll hear an eerie soundtrack of voices describing what camp means to them. Needless to say, it’s easy to become a bit swept away once you’re inside. You might even leave with urges to start wearing your own chandelier…



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If you want to check out the exhibition, it’s open now until September 8th at the Met Fifth Avenue. Entrance is included with your ticket to the entire Met. If you go, let us know what you think!


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