Fashion: Notes on Camp, Inside the MET's New (and Very Gay) Exhibit

all photos by models.com by  Betty Sze

all photos by models.com by Betty Sze

This year Andrew Bolton (the MET’s Costume Institute curator) decided to take a completely new approach to what is the biggest exhibition on fashion in the world. In response to the US’, “Camp: Notes on Fashion” serves as an artifice to defy the cultural or political conservatism of the times. But before delving into the Costume Institute wing on the ground floor of the museum we need to establish what camp is: camp is whatever you want it to be… as long as you’re having fun, literally. As Susan Sontag defines it in her essay (same essay that inspired the exhibition"), camp, more than an aesthetic, is a sensibility, an ironic exaggeration. As put in her essay, “indeed, the essence of camp is its love of the unnatural, of artifice and exaggeration. Camps is esoteric. Is to be drawn by it as strongly as offended by it”.

Fashion has always been a tool for irreverence and fashion has always borrowed clues from the gay and ridiculous. A celebration of what is considered not pretty or against the norm. Trompe l’oeil, dandy-isms, bows, Bob Mackie, there are so many things that can go as camp, so many nuances that root in the defiance of gender and the social chains it breaks. Camp is fashion, and fashion is camp.

Este año Andrew Bolton (el curador del Costume Institute del MET) decidió tomar un ángulo completamente nuevo y refrescante para estructurar la que es la exhibición más grande en cuanto a moda. “Camp: Notes on Fashion” es para mi una excelente respuesta al ambiente de conservadurismo cultural y político que está viviendo los Estados Unidos en la actualidad, pero no podemos todavía entrar en el ala derecha del primer piso del MET sin primero establecer algunas de las directrices que te harán comprender más el concepto que da nombre a la exhibición: “camp” es lo que tú quieras que sea… siempre y cuando te estés divirtiendo, literalmente. Como expresado por Susan Sontag en su ensayo de 1964 (mismo que fue el punto inicial para Andrew Bolton), “camp”, más que una estética es una sensibilidad, un cierto nivel de ironía y exageración (digamos que es el kitsch y el barroco mirado a través del lente de la cultura queer), “de hecho, la esencia de lo que es ‘camp’ es su amor por lo ‘no natural’, del artificio y de la exageración. ‘Camp’ es lo esotérico. Es sentirse atraído por algo a la misma vez que ofendido”.

Y la moda siempre ha sido herramienta de la irreverencia, así como un catalizador directo de lo gay y lo ridículo. Una celebración de que no es considerado académico o hermoso. Un trompe l’oeil, actitud dandy, lazos, Bob Mackie, Elthon John en su época dorada, Liberace, Velvet Goldmine, Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Tantas cosas y elementos que pueden ser interpretados como camp, tantos matices que encuentran raíz en desafiar el género y las cadenas sociales que este rompe. Camp es moda y moda es camp.

Left and center: Ashish, Fall 2017. Right: Romance Was Born, Spring 2015.

Left and center: Ashish, Fall 2017. Right: Romance Was Born, Spring 2015.

Thierry Mugler, Fall 1995 Couture.

Thierry Mugler, Fall 1995 Couture.

Right: Giambattista Valli, Fall 2018 Couture.. Left: Jeremy Scott for Moschino, Spring 2017.

Right: Giambattista Valli, Fall 2018 Couture.. Left: Jeremy Scott for Moschino, Spring 2017.

Jeremy Scott for Moschino, Fall 2010.

Jeremy Scott for Moschino, Fall 2010.

Left: Salvatore Ferragamo sandal, 1938 designed for Judy Garland. Right: Gucci, resort 2017.

Left: Salvatore Ferragamo sandal, 1938 designed for Judy Garland. Right: Gucci, resort 2017.

Jean Paul Gaultier, Spring 1997.

Jean Paul Gaultier, Spring 1997.

Left: Versace, Spring 1992. Right: Chanel, Fall 1991.

Left: Versace, Spring 1992. Right: Chanel, Fall 1991.

Viktor & Rolf, Spring 2019 Couture

Viktor & Rolf, Spring 2019 Couture

Michael Travis Liberace costume, 1982.

Michael Travis Liberace costume, 1982.

Molly Goddard, Fall 2019

Molly Goddard, Fall 2019

Christian Dior, Fall 1998 Couture

Christian Dior, Fall 1998 Couture

Left: Alessandro Michele for Gucci, Resort 2018. Center: Dapper Dan for Gucci. Right: Kim Jones for Louis Vuitton, Fall 2018 Menswear.

Left: Alessandro Michele for Gucci, Resort 2018. Center: Dapper Dan for Gucci. Right: Kim Jones for Louis Vuitton, Fall 2018 Menswear.

Left and right: Thom Browne, Spring 2017. Center: Gucci, Fall 2016.

Left and right: Thom Browne, Spring 2017. Center: Gucci, Fall 2016.

Left and right: Thom Browne, Spring 2018 Menswear.

Left and right: Thom Browne, Spring 2018 Menswear.

Christopher Bailey for Burberry, Fall 2018

Christopher Bailey for Burberry, Fall 2018

Left, Cristobal Balenciaga, Fall 1965 couture. Right, Jeremy Scott for Moschino, Spring 2018

Left, Cristobal Balenciaga, Fall 1965 couture. Right, Jeremy Scott for Moschino, Spring 2018

Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Fall Couture 1987

Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Fall Couture 1987