“Camp” Met Exhibition Review

It wasn’t long after the Coronavirus outbreak had affected the wider population that the Metropolitan Museum of Art took action to postpone this year’s gala. As the heartbreak for the biggest event in fashion is present, I thought that I would at least share some form conversation relating to the night in which we all love to spectate. So since I already did a review of the best looks from last year, I thought why not take a deeper look into the actual exhibition behind the big night that some of you may not have seen much about when it was around. So without anymore rambling, here are a few of my “Camp: Notes on Fashion” exhibition highlights.

The Gucci Sponsorship

Now to start of this discussion I thought it would be right to focus on the main contributors towards the show coming to life (Anna Wintour can only do so much, surprisingly) and the main sponsor for last year’s theme was in fact Gucci. As the exhibition will be made up of hundreds of delicate and often one of a kind pieces that are so rare to find, they need not just a big budget but also a big helping hand in providing a lot of relevant material, literally. Gucci has always been known for having a frivolous, hyper exaggerated flare to its designs that the fashion house suited this partnership just right.

In the past decade they have made a flying comeback into high fashion, whilst other brands of a similar position have focused on creating simple and sellable runway designs, Gucci have dared to be different and introduced a wide variety of silhouettes, patterns and textures to a new audience. They’ve made fashion desirable again, recognising the upcoming generations obsession with past decades and the unique pieces that only get diluted by other houses today, only to be diluted to just tinted water by the time these trends reach the high street.

Justice for Edda Gimnes

Now I’ve already covered some of this drama in a previous blog post when the whole thing unveiled, but since the Met Gala gave upcoming independent designer Edda Gimnes the justice she deserved, why not recap on what really happened to get her global recognition.

Edda Gimnes is a young and upcoming designer, who had graduated from the London College of Fashion in 2015. She had an interview post-graduation with Moschino, a brand that could be seen to suit her over the top flare. Sadly, she did not get what she was looking for and she was turned away, however her work didn’t go unnoticed. It was the Spring 2019 RTW collection that featured bold illustrative lines, block sharpie style colours, paired with sketched tights, all resembling the work of Gimnes. What was thought to be a great come back for Moschino after a few seasons of dull and lifeless themes, was actually completely forged.

Now how does this relate to the theme of Camp you ask? Well, a common theme that is recognised as Camp is ‘pastiche’, a word defining imitation of style or work. Another commonly associated word for Camp is irony, and the act of a well established fashion house needing to draw its ideas from a ‘nobody’ is quite ironic. So the word spread from Edda herself of this injustice, and soon the world started to recognise Jeremy Scott’s loss of touch when it came to being a true designer. Edda’s work was featured in this exhibit following her exposure and recognition, on a mannequin placed high and central to the main room of the show.

Molly Goddard’s recognition

Yes I’m talking about Molly Goddard yet again, but this time it’s necessary. I’d first like to address her absolute relevance to the exhibition. To start with in a very literal sense, her heavily gathered tulle dresses and unique silhouettes are of course as camp as you can get. Wearing 30 metres of fabric to pop to the shops in is going to make you feel like you’re wrapped in bubble wrap, whilst looking like a bright pink loofah (in a good way). Not only that, but her brand as a whole breaks away from the current monochromatic unsurprising styles of today that are the result of continuous dilution of trends over the years. She’s not trying to be anyone else, and she’s not trying to reinvent a style either, she’s looked at the fashion book and torn it apart and then rewrote it from her own perspective.

The picture that blew up on Instagram, this dress was one featured in the exhibition.

I also want to talk about it wasn’t just crucial for the Metropolitan museum to include Goddard in the Camp exhibition, but it was crucial for Goddard to receive that pedestal of recognition. There’s often a strange bridge between being an upcoming designer and being a well established fashion house, and sometimes designers can find themselves struggling to break out of that ‘small business’ title. It’s quite surprising to me how ironic it is that her pieces are just so recognisable amongst pop culture now, yet she’s still so unheard of. To be the poster outfit for Killing Eve, one of the highest achieving tv shows at the minute. To dress Rihanna of all people countless times and have some of the images be the singers most adored. Within just 5 years of her brand existing she’s been recognised by so many avenues besides the fashion industry, and I feel like the Met Gala confirmed that well deserved status that she’d already been achieving unrecognised for so long. My hero.

The iconic Björk swan dress

When the theme ‘Camp’ was announced I made a mental list of pieces or designers that I wanted to be included, and this exact dress was one of them. The Björk swan dress, designed by Marjan Pejoski from Macedonia, is one of the most outrageous red carpet looks of all time. Whilst wearing the dress to the Academy awards in 2001, the singer was seen to be mimicking ‘laying an egg’ on the red carpet. When she was asked about this in the press after all the hysteria it caused, she gave the statement “it’s just a dress”.

It’s a fact that the dress itself is something of total costume, it’s a given. However the attitude to wear it to a red carpet at a time when fashion was all about making yourself appear sexy and it was all taken a bit too seriously for what it was, it’s quite possibly the most camp piece of fashion to exist. It’s hardly anything to do with the piece itself, because that dress has been ripped off and ‘reimagined’ way more times than it should have been. It’s the total disregard for dignity and image in a time where that is all that mattered. Celebrities of that time very rarely dipped into new or unrecognised styles as individuals, fashion as a whole was commercialised to do its job. Björk’s dress was not just a fun idea, it was in fact a total mockery to pop culture at its time.

In summary, I fucking loved this exhibition. I say this with a biased opinion as the identification of the theme had made me realise how many parallels I have with it in my own style, so this theme will always have a special place in my heart. Yet, I thought that some of these highlights from the exhibition were some of the greatest overall in terms of reflecting on fashion in today’s society, so I hope that you enjoyed this or found out something new.

If you didn’t get a chance to see the exhibition whilst it was on, and you’d like to see a bit more from it, here’s a link to the page which features a virtual tour of the exhibiton. You can also find my review of last year’s gala looks here.

I’ll be back soon with more fashion chit chat.

Love,

Sophie

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