Camp is often defined as the exaggerated and the laughable—something done outlandishly for amusement. But the word has come to mean something more sophisticated, a means of social and political expression which is particularly relevant in our current times. The Met Costume Institute embraces this definition with its latest annual exhibition, inspired by writer Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay “Notes on Camp.” More than 250 pieces, including men’s and women’s clothing, paintings, drawings and objects, will be on exhibit, broken up into two sections: one focusing on the origins of camp and the second on how it’s expressed through the work of contemporary designers. Expect names like Miuccia Prada, Balenciaga and Charles Frederick Worth.
Coat, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac (French, born Casablanca, Morocco, 1949), fall/winter 1988-1989. Courtesy, Met Museum, Photo: Johnny Dufort, 2018