Costume Institute Benefit on May 6 with Co-Chairs Lady Gaga, Alessandro Michele, Harry Styles, Serena Williams, and Anna Wintour

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Costume Institute Benefit

The Costume Institute’s spring 2019 exhibition, Camp: Notes on Fashion (on view from May 9 through September 8, 2019, and preceded on May 6 by The Costume Institute Benefit), will explore the origins of camp’s exuberant aesthetic and how the sensibility evolved from a place of marginality to become an important influence on mainstream culture. Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay “Notes on ‘Camp’” provides the framework for the exhibition, which will examine how fashion designers have used their métier as a vehicle to engage with camp in a myriad of compelling, humorous, and sometimes incongruous ways.

The exhibition is made possible by Gucci.

Additional support is provided by Condé Nast.

“Camp’s disruptive nature and subversion of modern aesthetic values has often been trivialized, but this exhibition will reveal that it has had a profound influence on both high art and popular culture,” said Max Hollein, Director of The Met. “By tracing its evolution and highlighting its defining elements, the show will embody the ironic sensibilities of this audacious style, challenge conventional understandings of beauty and taste, and establish the critical role that this important genre has played in the history of art and fashion.”

In celebration of the opening, The Costume Institute Benefit—also known as The Met Gala—will take place on Monday, May 6.  The evening’s co-chairs will be Lady Gaga, Alessandro Michele, Harry Styles, Serena Williams, and Anna Wintour.  The event is The Costume Institute’s main source of annual funding for exhibitions, publications, acquisitions, and capital improvements.

“Fashion is the most overt and enduring conduit of the camp aesthetic,” said Andrew Bolton, Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute. “Effectively illustrating Sontag’s ‘Notes on “Camp,”’ the exhibition will advance creative and critical dialogue about the ongoing and ever-evolving impact of camp on fashion.”

Exhibition Overview

The exhibition will feature approximately 200 objects, including womenswear and menswear, as well as sculptures, paintings, and drawings dating from the 17th century to the present. The show’s opening section will position Versailles as a “camp Eden” and address the concept of se camper—“to posture boldly”—in the royal courts of Louis XIV and Louis XV. It will then focus on the figure of the dandy as a “camp ideal” and trace camp’s origins to the queer subcultures of Europe and America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In her essay, Sontag defined camp as an aesthetic and outlined its primary characteristics. The largest section of the exhibition will be devoted to how these elements—which include irony, humor, parody, pastiche, artifice, theatricality, and exaggeration—are expressed in fashion.

Designers whose works will be featured in the exhibition include Virgil Abloh (for Off-White), Giorgio Armani, Manish Arora, Ashish, Christopher Bailey (for Burberry), Cristóbal Balenciaga, Thom Browne, Sarah Burton (for Alexander McQueen), Isabel Canovas, Gabrielle Chanel, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Christian Dior, John Galliano (for Maison Margiela, House of Dior, and his own label), Jean Paul Gaultier, Nicolas Ghesquière (for Louis Vuitton), Edda Gimnes, Molly Goddard, Craig Green, Bertrand Guyon (for House of Schiaparelli), Demna Gvasalia (for Balenciaga), Heatherette, Marc Jacobs, Rossella Jardini (for House of Moschino) Stephen Jones, Christopher Kane, Patrick Kelly, Ada Kokosar, Christian Lacroix, Karl Lagerfeld (for House of Chanel, Chloé, and Fendi), Mary Katrantzou, Rei Kawakubo (for Comme des Garçons), Bob Mackie, Martin Margiela, Stella McCartney (for Chloé), Alessandro Michele (for Gucci), Erdem Moralioglu, Franco Moschino, Thierry Mugler, Palomo Spain, Marjan Pejoski, Phoebe Philo (for Céline), Paul Poiret, Gareth Pugh, Richard Quinn, Zandra Rhodes, William Dill-Russell, Yves Saint Laurent, Elsa Schiaparelli, Jeremy Scott (for Moschino and his own label), Hedi Slimane (for Saint Laurent), Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren (for Viktor & Rolf), Anna Sui, Jun Takahashi (for Undercover) Philip Treacy, Walter Van Beirendonck, Vaquera, Silvia Venturini Fendi (for Fendi), Donatella Versace (for Versace), Gianni Versace, and Vivienne Westwood.

Exhibition Credits

The exhibition is organized by Andrew Bolton, Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute, with Karen Van Godtsenhoven, Associate Curator. Theater scenographer Jan Versweyveld, whose work includes Lazarus with David Bowie as well as Broadway productions of A View from the Bridge and Network, will create the exhibition design with The Met’s Design Department. Select mannequin headpieces will be created by Shay Ashual. Raul Avila will produce the gala décor, which he has done since 2007.

Related Content

A publication by Andrew Bolton with Fabio Cleto, Karen Van Godtsenhoven, and Amanda Garfinkel will accompany the exhibition and include new photography by Johnny Dufort. It will be published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press.  

A special feature on the Museum’s website, www.metmuseum.org/Camp, provides further information about the exhibition.  Follow us on Facebook.com/metmuseum, Instagram.com/metmuseum, and Twitter.com/metmuseum to join the conversation about the exhibition and gala.  Use #MetCamp, #CostumeInstitute, @MetCostumeInstitute, and #MetGala on Instagram and Twitter.

About Gucci

Founded in Florence in 1921, Gucci is one of the world’s leading luxury fashion brands, with a reputation for creativity, innovation, and Italian craftsmanship. Gucci is part of Kering, a global Luxury group, which manages the development of a series of renowned maisons in fashion, leather goods, jewelry, and watches.

About The Met 
The Met presents over 5,000 years of art from around the world in three New York City locations—The Met Fifth AvenueThe Met Breuer, and The Met Cloisters. Since it was founded in 1870, the Museum has brought art to life in its galleries and through exhibitions and events, revealing both new ideas and unexpected connections across time and cultures.