You know how much I love fashion and how I like to understand the why behind the rise of a certain aesthetic or color. The first Monday of May is a very good sample/ example of today's society taste in clothing. This year aesthetic at the MET really tapped into the Zeitgeist and I am going to unravel why... Why Camp aesthetic made perfect sense for this year theme at the MET. Brailling back to the precursor signals that led the way to yesterday's spectacle at the MET Gala.
Camp: Notes on fashion
First of all, what is Camp aesthetic? If you haven't watch last night pink carpet, you might have an image of green/ brown camouflage and camping popping in your head, but camp isn't mud and dust. Camp is actually a combination of bad taste and irony. Camp is the cousin of cheesy and is very close to Kitsch. It has all to do with over-exaggeration.
Camp comes from french "se camper" which means to stand straight with pride. The word pride is specifically relevant to the understanding of this trend. The inspiration for this year's theme and exhibition is extract from the 1964s essay of Susan Sontag; Notes on Camp. This essay exposes with 58 points what are the subtleties of the movement.
Now that we've got that cleared up, lets look at why Camp aesthetic made perfect sense for this year theme at the MET.
We've stated that Camp is very ironic, it mirrors very well the political situation we have lived in for couple of years now with unstable governments. The tension is palpable in different countries: America, North Korea, China, Uk. The establishment being on crooked floor, brings up the satire. Fake news, lost of control, the absurdity is so obvious that the aesthetics takes it in and turns it in a humorist way.
We are past the in between theme of 2017 MET Gala (Rei Kawakubo/ Comme des Garçons: Art of In-Between) referring to the battle of sexes. In today's society anyone can express and be what they want; A man, woman, a person, an object. Good example was Katy Perry humanizing a chandelier and later on a Hamburger at the gala. The exaggeration and pushing the boundaries started in guay communities. Now, other communities have embrace it leading the way to feathers, sparkles, extravagance seen in last night pink carpet. The extreme success of Rupaul’s Drag Race is an other element driving to the rise of Camp.
Showcase broadcastAn other important element is the influence of Instagram. The theatrical possibility of this social media platform is driving the way to excess. The online audience makes staging highly visual and over the top moments and gowns. We had good examples last night with Lady Gaga arriving 4 times in different dresses staging her entrance different ways every time. Without forgetting to mention Billy Porter who made the theatrical entrance with his personal porters.
When an aesthetic movement rise it always counter balance an other one. It is call the pendulum swing theory. And in this case, Camp aesthetic backlash the minimalist ground of the last couple of decades and the conservatism of generations before. Doubting the norm and second guessing what is ugly/pretty & good taste/bad taste.
Last Fashion shows of F/W 19/20 staged the ground for Camp aesthetics to go up the stairs at Met Gala. With Mary Kotrandzou, Molly Goddard and their ruffles & feathers without forgetting to mention the highly visual and Instagram references of Viktor & Rolf's Haute Couture. We have seen creation of Moschino, Thom Browne, Gucci that all have worked on irony in different ways for more than one season now. Enhancement of the Camp theme was also spotted at the red carpet of the Oscars with the repetitive pink and ruffles.
Notes on Camp by Susan Sontag