FASHION CAMP: The opening of “Camp: Notes on Fashion” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute is a month away, but the exhibition catalogue pictures what’s to come.
Andrew Bolton, the Wendy Yu curator in charge of The Costume Institute, has enlisted the help of associate curator Karen van Godtsenhoven and assistant curator Amanda Garfinkel for the double-sided expansive tome. Opening the icy pink book cover presents two volumes, each encased in a pale green with a gold border. With a forward by the Met’s director Max Hollein, an introduction by Fabio Cleto and “Isherwoodian Camps” and “Sontagian Camps” (inspired by Christopher Isherwood and Susan Sontag), there is a lot to consider. One of Sontag’s deductions reads, “As a taste in persons, Camp responds particularly to the markedly attenuated and to the strongly exaggerated.”
There is also “Camp The Beau Ideal,” “Camp Verb,” “Camp Adjective” and “Camp Noun.” Even Gucci, the spring show’s sponsor, sends catalogue readers on their way with a statement on page one. There, a quote from Sontag’s seminal essay that provided the inspiration for the exhibition is spelled out: “The essence of camp is its love of the unnatural; of artifice and exaggeration.”
Volume two consists of an assortment of full-page photographs on gold-colored backed pages. Each image is paired with a header and a quote. A Marjan Pejoski swan-neck halter minidress from fall 2000 is accompanied by, “The Theatricalization of Experience. ‘Camp [is] Swan Lake.’ — Susan Sontag, 1964.” A bespectacled mannequin in a wide-bodied A-line House of Dior dress designed by John Galliano from the spring 2001 haute couture collection holds a baby doll. Above the photo there is, “A Second Childhood. Camp is ‘girls who wear starched maternity dresses without being pregnant.’ — The Realist, 1962.”
There are numerous images of others campy styles including ones from Gianni Versace, Galliano, Jeremy Scott, Chanel in its Karl Lagerfeld years, Gucci by Alessandro Michele and Thom Browne. Perhaps the quote above Browne’s two spring 2017 dress best explains the takeaway of “Camp.” “A Double Sense in Which Some Things Can Be Taken. Camp ‘can be take on two completely separate levels and make perfect sense on each.’ — Evelyn Satz.”
As a warm-up event, the Fiends of The Costume Institute will be holding an event at the Oscar de la Renta offices on April 24. Designers Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia will chat with Instagram’s director of partnerships Eva Chen before guests are given a tour of the studio.
“Camp: Notes on Fashion” will open to the public on May 9 at the Fifth Avenue museum and will run through Sept. 8. Bolton and his team have high numbers to try to beat. Last year’s “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” attracted more than 1.6 million visitors — an all-time record that made it The Met’s most-visited exhibition to date.