The Met Gala Has Never Been Campier

Met Gala, let’s get sickening.

By Jonathan Chau

The Costume Institute just announced the next theme for the Met Gala is “Camp: Notes on Fashion” and the fashion gays are living.

Based on Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay “Notes on ‘Camp,’” the show will explore camp as a form of expression in clothing. Originally a queer aesthetic, Camp is a sensibility relying on bad taste and irony. Camp artist explores what is high art, what is good taste and bad taste, what is valued, and what is beautiful.

“The essence of Camp is its love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration,” Sontag wrote in the Parian Review.

Think of your favorite John Waters’ film with Divine, like Pink Flamingos or more commercially Hairspray, or drag, now brought into the mainstream because of Rupaul’s Drag Race. In fashion, think of Alessandro Michele’s Gucci, a fine line between tacky and luxury or Glenn Martens’ Y/Project use of Ugg thigh-highs.

“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,” says Andrew Bolton, head curator of the costume institute, to New York Times. “Whether it’s pop camp, queer camp, high camp or political camp — Trump is a very camp figure — I think it’s very timely.”

This year, Lady Gaga, Serena Williams, and Harry Styles will co-host the Met Gala — which makes sense. Lady Gaga is the modern queen of camp from her editorial covers to her outlandish music videos. Her meat dress from the 2010 MTV VMAs was implanted in red carpet history. Harry Styles was just in Gucci’s men’s tailoring campaign with farm animals in fish and chips shops. His tour looks have also been amazing like his custom Charles Jeffrey Loverboy jumpsuit suits.

This exhibition has a lot to live up to. Not only was last years, “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” the most visited Costume Institute exhibition in history, but the third most-visited of the Metropolitan Museum of Art overall.

With such high expectations, at least one thing is certain: the red carpet will more extra than ever before.


Jonathan Chau