The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced the theme of next year’s Met Gala and accompanying Costume Institute exhibition, and one thing it promises not to be is subtle.
Entitled “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” the 2019 show looks likely to be the most outrageous to date, with the theme drawing on a 1964 Susan Sontag essay that describes camp as “love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration.”
Unquestionably the fashion world’s biggest night of the year, the annual invite-only gala fundraiser is held the night before the exhibition opens on the first Monday in May at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
“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,” Costume Institute’s curator Andrew Bolton, told the 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.”
A total of 175 objects, including womenswear and menswear from the 17th century to the present will be on show at the Costume Institute exhibition.
1/35 – Actress Blake Lively
Pop icon Lady Gaga, singer Harry Styles, tennis star Serena Williams, Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele and Vogue’s editor-in-chief Anna Wintour will serve as co-chairs.
The news drew enthusiasm from the fashion community and social media.
New York Times fashion critic Vanessa Friedman described the decision to go from this year’s Catholic-themed “Heavenly Bodies” to the expected theatricality of the upcoming “camp”-themed exhibition as “an about-face to the profane” that could potentially top its predecessor in popularity amongst the public.
Vanity Fair wrote that the choice of Lady Gaga and Harry Styles as co-chairs will “provide some possibly needed encouragement,” for guests needing inspiration on how to dress on theme.
Gaga “has built a career out of high-concept art and camp,” and the “former boy bander turned Gucci campaign star has taken up a transformation into a millennial David Bowie, embracing art and style as he ascends into full rock-star status.”
Parts of the show will demonstrate how the royal courts of Louis XIV and Louis XV embraced the concept of camp, an exploration of how dandies demonstrated the “camp ideal,” and camp’s origins in European and American queer subcultures in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The works of Donatella Versace, Marc Jacobs, Jeremy Scott and dozens of others will be featured.
Past topical Costume Institute shows that have drawn wide attendance include this year’s “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” and 2015’s “China: Through the Looking Glass.”