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Quotes on CAMP: Behind the scenes at the 2019 Met Gala

“Indeed the essence of Camp is its love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration. And Camp is esoteric—something of a private code, a badge of identity.”

-Susan Sontag, Notes on Camp

This year's theme was, "CAMP: Notes on Fashion" based on Sarah Sontag's 1964 essay, "Notes on Camp". This post took a while to put together because I wanted to be thoughtful about it and not just present my favorites the way I did last year. Since the new exhibition and subsequent gala were announced, they have been met with both controversy and confusion, as camp is something that has proven hard to define.

Many in the camp community feel that rather than celebrating it, the museum is appropriating a subculture with almost complete disregard for its history and origins. This was alluded to on the back of the Pyer Moss suit Lena Waithe wore to the event.

The stripes on both suits are actually song lyrics. Lena's includes lyrics from "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor, "Supermodel" by RuPaul, and "We Are Family" by Sister Sledge. Kirby Jean-Raymond, creative director of Pyer Moss and Lena's plus one at the event, came up with the design and wore a matching suit prominently featuring a Nipsey Hussle lyric, "Fix Your Credit. Pool Money. Buy Back The Block." as well as lyrics by 2Pac, Jay Z, Nas, Drake, Meek Mill, J.Cole and Kendrick Lamar.

"The word 'camp' actually originated as a queer slang term, part of a secret language called Polari that gay people have used for centuries. Polari has roots in the secret languages of sailors and theatrical performers in the 18th century.

In 20th century Britain, it soon evolved to function as a street language that contained many euphemisms for police as well as homosexual relationships and was eventually largely left behind as queer culture became more publicly acceptable."

- Eden Arielle Gordon,

Lady Gaga,💄Makeup by Sarah Tanno 💇 Hair by Frederic Aspiras

Lady Gaga's performance on the red carpet has largely been praised for demonstrating the true spirit of camp.

"Camp was created by marginalized communities, in part to avoid traditional confines of language, and particularly, to escape restrictions of gender, sexuality, and the kind of power and wealth that funds the Metropolitan Museum of Art and puts on its star-studded gala each year."

- Eden Arielle Gordon,

Natasha Lyonne, 💄Makeup by Kabuki 💇 Hair by Jillian Halouska

Laverne Cox,💄Makeup by Deja Smith, 💇 Hair by Kiyah Wright

“What is extravagant in an inconsistent or unpassionate way is not Camp. Neither can anything be Camp that does not spring from an irrepressible, a virtually uncontrolled sensibility. Without passion, one gets pseudo-Camp–what is merely decorative."

-Samantha Powell, A.V. Club

Priyanka Chopra, 💄Makeup by Pati Dubroff 💇 Hair by Bok-Hee

Cardi B, 💄Makeup by Erika la Pearl

"Essentially, camp is a way of existing as a queer person within a heteronormative culture—a way of using exaggerated performances to both celebrate one's identity and to critique and reclaim the mainstream."

- Eden Arielle Gordon,

Gigi Hadid, 💄Makeup by Erin Parsons

Erin created the lashes by cutting the barbs off a feather and individually glueing them to the lash line.

Lily Collins, 💄Makeup by Fiona Stiles, 💇 Hair by Gregory Russell

Lily's look was inspired by Priscilla Presley's styling on the day she married Elvis.

"Right now, in America and other countries, LGBT people are under attack in different forms by various ruling classes. As visitors to this show giggle over dresses and quotes and shower heads spouting glittery trinkets, they are not being encouraged to see the LGBT historical through-line that is the backbone and lifeblood of camp’s history.

-Tim Teaman, The Daily Beast

Joan Smalls, 💄Makeup by Patrick Ta 💇 Hair by Kayla MiChelle

Violet Chachki, 💄 M·A·C Cosmetics

This is the first year drag queens like the iconic Chachki walked the red (pink) carpet at the Met Gala.

"Camp has helped lighten mainstream culture through laughter and aesthetics. Rather than offer respect, or even basic thanks, for what it appropriates, that same mainstream culture instead legislates against LGBT people—and worse. And now a venerable institution like the Met has made this tangled, glittery, witty, serious, dirty, fascinating piece of LGBT culture all clean and respectable.

It might be camp if it wasn’t so disheartening."

- Tim Teaman, The Daily Beast

Hailee Steinfeld, 💄Makeup by Carolina Gonzalez 💇 Hair by Ruslan Nureev

Darren Criss, 💄Makeup by Jessica Ortiz

Kim Kardashian, 💄Makeup by Mario Dedivanovic

Kim's look was inspired by Sophia Loren in the 1957 film ’Boy on a Dolphin’

"The Met Gala can be more: more adventurous, more thrilling, more fun and loud and grand than all of the other red carpet events because of the art it’s shining a light on."

-Samantha Powell, A.V. Club

Billy Porter, 💄Makeup by La Sonya Gunter

"Camp means as hugely over-the-top and grand and what some may feel is ridiculous and silly, and embracing all of those creative impulses inside us that very often are squelched."

-Billy Porter

The CAMP: Notes on Fashion exhibit will be open at The Metropolitan Museum of Art until September 8, 2019.

"Through more than 250 objects dating from the seventeenth century to the present, The Costume Institute's spring 2019 exhibition explores the origins of camp's exuberant aesthetic. Susan Sontag's 1964 essay "Notes on 'Camp'" provides the framework for the exhibition, which examines how the elements of irony, humor, parody, pastiche, artifice, theatricality, and exaggeration are expressed in fashion."

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