"Camp: Notes on Fashion": everything you need to know about MET 2019

Here's all that has happened

By Camilla Alcini

"Camp: Notes on Fashion", four simple words that define the theme of the fashion show that the Metropolitan Museum of New York will open on May 9th. But are we sure we really know the meaning of the word "camp" and above all that it's so trivial? One of the most googled words of the last few weeks and with an ambiguous definition, it dates back to 1600, when Moliere associated it with an eccentric mask. But it was the esthete Oscar Wilde who defined it precisely as "action or gesture of exaggerated emphasis", exclusive to queer people, such as the twentieth-century dandies. But the real inspiration of the exhibition sponsored by Gucci and Condè Nast comes from the essay by Susan Sontag "Notes on Camp". No judgments, enjoyment, sweet cynicism, passionate failures, the Sontag thus defines the term camp, which is perhaps much more than a trivial word. Taking up the definitions of the writer, the taste of camp is to taste and not to judge, it is the spectator who does not label it as such to the sight of the dress camp, but savors it in a tender feeling.
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The rule, if this can be defined, is just not being boring. The MET Ball, also known as MET Gala or Costume Institute Gala, is the fashion event that precedes and inaugurates the Metropolitan exhibition every first Monday in May. It is difficult to explain how strong is the echo of this lavish recurrence that Diana Vreeland and then Anna Wintour have made almost mythical. Celebrities and public figures are invited to parade following a precise dress code, which not rarely results in iconic looks that not only reflect the theme of the exhibition, but define the entire global fashion system. Therefore, it is impossible not to focus everything on the looks you decide to wear on the carpet, taking care of every detail.
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Andrew Bolton, curator of the exhibition, defined the camp with these words: "It's too much of everything, too many sequins, too many ruffles, too many feathers. It is the subversion of the status quo, but also generosity, munificence", while Alessandro Michele, Gucci creative director since 2015, says that those four letters "teach us in their banality how important it is to feel free to express themselves through the way they dress". Freedom of expression, therefore, but also exaggeration. It is no coincidence that godmother and godfather of the initiative are Lady Gaga and Harry Styles. The "Shallow" singer, already awarded for her music and recently for her performance in "A Star is Born", has always marked her looks above and below the stage with a provocative exaggeration. We all remember when he dressed in fresh meat at the VMA as an animalist protest, but also in the Armadillo shoes by Alexander McQueen, which many models refused to wear and which Gaga made famous instead.

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In his talk at the 2019 Oscars, he reiterated how much hard work there is behind his success, the importance of not winning, but of never giving up while maintaining his own identity. As for the former One Direction that Michele took under his wing, his entire first solo tour was studded with sometimes eccentric, sometimes more elegant, but always faithful to the singer personality. Anna Wintour said that Styles reminds him a lot of a young Mick Jagger. Playing from time to time with feminine elements, perfectly integrated in highly sought after outfits, Harry Styles made his way into the world of fashion accompanied by Yves Saint Laurent, Burberry and, last but not least, the Italian Gucci house, earning a reputation that has raised expectations for the look that will be worn at the Met 2019.


Such a free theme, based on fun and personality, has certainly made it difficult to give it a univocal interpretation. The stairs of the Met were in fact traversed by such different looks that they cannot be precisely framed in "theme" or not. But as usual, there are always those who have left their mark and those who have not. Starting from the definitions of "Notes on Camp" by Sontag, we could indicate macro-categories.

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The supermodel Hailey Baldwin, in Wang, communicates that "tender feeling" of which the writer speaks with a long tight-fitting quartz pink dress, with a high neck and long sleeves, as well as the top Gisele Bundchen in a Dior dress sustainable by the lines soft and always in shades of pink. Even the queen of elegance Anna Wintour, in Chanel, opted for pink, as did the angel of Victoria's Secret Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, in Oscar De La Renta, both covered in feathers, obviously inspired by the part of the essay that reads : "The essence of the camp is its love for the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration. The hallmark of the campsite is the spirit of extravagance. Camp is a woman who goes around in a dress made of 3 million feathers”. Space for the enjoyment and the kitsch soul instead for the younger ones, like the Riverdale stars Cole Sprouse and Lili Reinhart. He wore a burgundy suit "stained" with colored asterisks and with pink sleeves with a retro taste, she with a jumpsuit full of ruffles and with a long voluminous blue train, both in Ferragamo.

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Same mode for the pop star Dua Lipa in Versace. On the Metropolitan's carpet a little Cinderella 2.0 was also staged, with Zendaya in Tommy Hilfiger in the role of the princess with the technological blue dress and her stylist Law Roach in the role of the godmother with a magic wand. The Jenner sisters in, Atelier Versace, play in the role of bad stepsisters (as perhaps the media have described them too often?), Kylie in lilac and Kendall in orange, both clad in eccentrically campy feathers. Beautiful Valentino dresses by Pierpaolo Piccioli like that of Naomi Campbell or Elicrisio, worn by actress Julianne Moore. Princess of the Met the actress Lily Collins in Giambattista Valli (like her colleague Emma Roberts), in a white and voluminous dress, with a long train that combines tulle and ripples. Surprising men, among which we must mention absolutely Ezra Miller in Burberry and Jared Leto in Gucci, arrived holding his head in his hand as the models in the February 2018 fashion week. he plays on tattoos veiled only by a thin layer of transparent fabric and on feminine elements such as heeled boots. "It's camp, but it's still Harry", says his stylist Lambert. Surprising Lady Gaga, who arrived first and changed her outfit four times up the stairs, accompanied by dancers in an eccentric choreography worthy of the shows of the "Born this way" singer, remaining finally in a complete black underwear, stockings and dizzy and punk heels. You have really enjoyed following the message behind the word "camp" to the letter.