Everything You Need to Know About “Camp, Met Gala 2019: Notes on Fashion”

The Costume Institute and Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City just announced the theme for the 2019 Met Gala and exhibit. Titled, “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” a play on Susan Sontag’s essay from 1964, “Notes on ‘Camp.’” In her words, she wrote, “The essence of Camp is its love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration.” Zelda Williams took to Twitter once the news broke to write, “The Met Gala may be Camp themed, but everyone is still gonna show up in skintight sparkly mermaid silhouettes and we all know it.” Our Entertainment Features Editor, Gabe Bergado, already made a joke about mis-interpreting the theme, saying: “They told me the theme was camp,” with an image of a model wearing a tent as a jacket and headwear. There has also been a flurry of camp-ER themed memes, with girls in cargo shorts and hiking boots and even some dressed in camping gear.

But what does all this mean for the Costume Institute’s artistic interpretation? Read on for everything you need to know in preparation of the theme.


Mark your calendars for the red carpet spectacular on May 6 at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. The crowd and the outfits are sure to not disappoint. That gives you T-minus seven months to prepare, so start studying up!


This year, there will be five co-chairs of the event. Anna Wintour, of course, will stand at the top of the Met steps receiving guests alongside Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, Serena Williams, and Gucci’s Alessandro Michele. If there were any five individuals that embody the intersection of high fashion and camp-y style, it’s this group.


While there are many opinions on the topic, the definition of the word that the exhibit will be bringing to life stems from Susan Sontag in her classification of “love of the unnatural.” Costume Institute Curator Andrew Bolton explained in The New York Timesthat he particularly loves the language she used when she “talks about the idea of camp as failed seriousness,” adding, “When it’s ‘campy,’ it is more self-conscious, but we are going to look at both.”


Andrew Bolton told The NYT, “We are going through an extreme camp moment, 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 marginalized cultures.” He went on to explain the relevant tie-ins, continuing, “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 — give or take — around 175 pieces included in the 2019 exhibit at the museum. That count includes not only womenswear and menswear, but also sculptures, paintings, and drawings. While half of the exhibit will trace the word’s roots from Versailles (“Camp” was reportedly included in a 1909 Victorian slang dictionary), the second will tackle the concept’s expression through contemporary designers.

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