Glamour, presence, power, artistry—read on to learn more about the night where the lustre of dining with the world's most well-known names in music, film, and fashion, dims in comparison to feasting your eyes on what they are wearing and why.
Every year, since 1948, The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute chooses a spring exhibition to showcase an aspect of fashion, its varied importance throughout history, and its relationship to culture as a whole. On the first Monday of each May, the exhibition is unveiled on "fashion's biggest night out," in which A-listers from music, fashion, and film experience and embrace this theme by not only witnessing the grandeur of the exhibition itself but by also partaking in the theme themselves.
Feather boas, bright colors, Liberace-style capes, playful prints, and fearless exaggeration, these are all emblems of the essence of Camp, this year's theme, framed around Susan Sontag's 1964 essay, "Camp: Notes on Fashion". As put by Andrew Bolton, the Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute, Camp is "love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration . . . style at the expense of content . . . the triumph of the epicene style." Camp is androgynous, meaning it bears no gender. It combines refined respects of fine art and mainstream pop culture. It is excessive, theatrical, exaggerated, and ironic. It takes modern values and standards and runs them through a flamboyant maze of posturing and performance. Camp is not an idea, but rather a sensibility.
It is believed that the word "camp" comes from the French verb se camper, or "to strike an exaggerated pose," most noted in the uninhibited extravagance of Palace-of-Versailles-building king, Louis XIV. Camp was the red string running through the fashion choices of aristocratic Italians, and the works produced during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Cross-dressers of the Victorian era and elaborate mid-twentieth-century ball gowns (such as those by designers including Christobal Balenciaga) only fanned the flames of Camp in pop culture. Today, Cher, Elton John, and Harry Styles serve as modern archetypes of Camp with all that is "too bright" or "too big", opulent headdresses, and often rhinestones—lots of rhinestones.
Held this year on May 6, the Gala is sponsored in-part by Gucci, with the brand's head designer, Alessandro Michele, Vogue's Anna Wintour, Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, and Serena Williams acting as co-chairs, with red carpet coverage beginning at 7 p.m. EST. Although the gala itself is not televised, and in fact has a strict no selfie/social media rule, various sources including E! and Entertainment Tonight will begin pre-show, live-streamed coverage beginning at 5 p.m. EST.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute's Spring 2019 Exhibition, Camp: Notes on Fashion, will be open to the public from May 9 until September 8, 2019.
For more information on the history and origins of Camp, and for by-the-minute coverage of the Met Gala, visit Vogue.com.