Camp: Notes on Fashion

WHEN:

May 9th 2019 to September 8th 2019
Paid Entry ($25.00)

WHERE:

The Met Fifth Avenue, 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, 10028

WHAT:

The Costume Institute's spring 2019 exhibition will explore the origins of the camp aesthetic, and how it has 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.

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+ PHOTO & VIDEO
Friendliness: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5

I went on Members’ Preview day after work, unfortunately, near closing time. The museum closes at 5:30 but they started making announcements around 5:00, saying that that exhibition was to close earlier than the others. The exhibition itself is fun, but I wouldn’t actually call it “interesting”. Unless there was another room that I missed, it was much smaller than I had expected. I liked the displays at the entrance (a campy modern outfit reminiscent of 18th century French court dress displayed near a painting of Louis XIV), but the main exhibition space is exactly the same as at the Alexander McQueen show some years back. High up in cubes, reminiscent of Hollywood Squares. The upside to that is that you get a great overview and if you’re petite (like me), you don’t have masses of taller people in your way. The downside is that everything is so far away that you can’t see the details. My biggest complaint is the wall labels, which are almost impossible to read without getting very close and scrunching your eyes. Some are a thin font in a delicate black on the clear plexiglass—forget reading those or taking a picture of them for reference, as many people do. The labels that are flat on the pale pink walls and floors are only a little easier to read as they resemble a typewriter font. In my opinion, it’s fun but not a patch on the “China Through the Looking Glass”, “Rei Kawakubo: Art if the In-Between”, or “Fashion and the Catholic Imagination”, each of which I saw three times. Oh and the gift shop that I got to glance at as they were rushing us out: I asked an employee the price of a smallish handbag decorated with tulle. She answered embarrassedly, “A lot, I know. Let me check. It’s $550”. So much for that. $100 would already have been a lot but $550 is excessive.

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