The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that The Costume Institute’s Spring 2019 exhibition will be Camp: Notes on Fashion, drawing on a 1964 Susan Sontag essay that describes camp as “love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration.” The Costume Institute Benefit, also known as The Met Gala, will take place on Monday, May 6, 2019 and will be co-chaired by Lady Gaga, Alessandro Michele, Harry Styles, Serena Williams, and Anna Wintour and the exhibition will be on view from May 9 through September 8, 2019. On display will be approximately 175 objects, from womenswear and menswear, as well as sculptures, paintings, and drawings dating from the 17th century to the present, exploring the origins of the camp aesthetic and how it has evolved to become an important influence on mainstream culture.
“Camp’s disruptive nature and subversion of modern aesthetic values has often been trivialized, but this exhibition will reveal its profound influence on both high art and popular culture,” said Max Hollein, Director of The Met. “By tracing its evolution and highlighting its defining elements, the show will embody the ironic sensibilities of this audacious style, challenge conventional understandings of beauty and taste, and establish the critical role this important genre has played in the history of art and fashion.”
The show will open with Versailles as a “camp Eden” and address the concept of se camper—”to posture boldly”—in the royal courts of Louis XIV and Louis XV. It will then focus on the figure of the dandy as a “camp ideal” and trace camp’s origins to the queer subcultures of Europe and America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The largest section of the exhibition will be devoted to how these elements-which include irony, humour, parody, pastiche, artifice, theatricality, and exaggeration-are expressed in fashion.
“Fashion is the most overt and enduring conduit of the camp aesthetic,” said Andrew Bolton, Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute. “Effectively illustrating Sontag’s Notes on ‘Camp,’ the exhibition will advance creative and critical dialogue about the ongoing and ever-evolving impact of camp on fashion.”
Designers whose works will be featured in the exhibition include Gilbert Adrian, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Thom Browne, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, John Galliano (for Martin Margiela, House of Dior, and his own label), Jean Paul Gaultier, Rudi Gernreich, Guccio Gucci, Demna Gvasalia (for Balenciaga and his own label), Marc Jacobs (for Louis Vuitton and his own label), Charles James, Stephen Jones, Christian Lacroix, Karl Lagerfeld (for House of Chanel, Chloe, and his own label), Herbert and Beth Levine, Alessandro Michele (for Gucci), Franco Moschino, Thierry Mugler, Norman Norell, Marjan Pejoski, Paul Poiret, Miuccia Prada, Richard Quinn, Christian Francis Roth, Yves Saint Laurent, Elsa Schiaparelli, Jeremy Scott (for Moschino and his own label), Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren (for Viktor & Rolf), Anna Sui, Philip Treacy, Walter Van Beirendonck, Donatella Versace (for Versace), Gianni Versace, Vivienne Westwood, and Charles Frederick Worth.