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Met Gala attendees should’ve realised being camp is easier done than intellectualised

In fact, intellectualising a ‘look’ quite spoils the unique appeal of the spontaneously camp.

ET Bureau|
May 09, 2019, 09.00 AM IST
Lady Gaga posing for the shutterbugs
Lady Gaga posing for the shutterbugs
A cultural historian at the University of Sussex, Andy Medhurst avers that “Trying to define camp is like attempting to sit in the corner of a circular room.” No wonder the outfits at the Met Gala this year in New York — whose theme this year was ‘Camp: Notes on Fashion’ — went round in circles.

Some took it to mean fairy-tale exaggeration, others just exaggeration. For clues about what to wear, the rest probably did a speedread of Susan Sontag’s essay ‘Notes on Camp’, where she says camp “sees everything in quotation marks”, is probably the most apt description of the ethos.

Actually, they need not have tried so hard because being camp has always been a great way to make a mark on the red carpet — and even the pink one at the Met Gala — without being too intellectual about it.

Met Gala Pink Carpet: Isha Ambani, Priyanka & Deepika's Camp Style; Lady Gaga's Outfit Chan...

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Camp Files

7 May, 2019
The 2019 Met Gala saw stars bring their best fashion game to the pink carpet keeping in theme with this year's theme 'Camp: Notes on Fashion'. The theme was inspired by a seminal 1964 essay by American author Susan Sontag in which she describes the phenomenon as something that shan't be talked about: "To talk about Camp is therefore to betray it." The Metropolitan Museum of Art, whose yearly bash welcomes over-the-top looks based on a theme, saw pink and gold, trains, fringe and fur as the gala kicked off in New York City. Singer Lady Gaga, Gucci designer Alessandro Michele, British singer Harry Styles and tennis superstar Serena Williams joined Vogue editor Anna Wintour in co-chairing the event, which raises money for the Costume Institute. In Pic (L to R): Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Lady Gaga.

In fact, intellectualising a ‘look’ quite spoils the unique appeal of the spontaneously camp. It leads to highbrow disputes over whether the LGBTQ angle of camp has been adequately acknowledged and deconstructing an ensemble for meaning when it, in fact, may not have any.

Intentional exaggeration, of course, is difficult when normal ‘dressing-up’ very often verges on overstatement. So, it is not surprising that in India, the word is not naturally associated with over-the-top dressing; terror camps, sports coaching camps and tent camps are the usual allusions.

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