The Met Gala is absolutely entrenched in mystery — that’s at least half of its public appeal. One particularly curious aspect of the practically-royal night is the theme. Every year, the Met Gala theme is announced to much pomp and circumstance — and the world waits to see who will and won’t adhere to its fashion guidelines. In 2019, celebs galore will be living up to the high standard that is “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” this year’s exciting theme. But where did it come from? How was it chosen? And what even is “Camp,” anyway?
Allow us to explain.
What is the origin of the 2019 Met Gala theme?
Cool, so, what is ‘Camp,’ again?
In Sontag’s essay, she defined the word pretty simply. “The essence of Camp is its love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration,” she wrote. Essentially, it is the penchant to be (and in the case of the Met Gala, dress) exaggerated, loud and plain outrageous.
OK … But why now?
Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute (he essentially runs the whole event, second to Anna Wintour, of course), explained just that in an interview with The New York Times back in October 2018 to celebrate the announcement of this year’s theme.
“We are going through an extreme Camp moment, and it felt very relevant to the cultural conversation to look at what is often dismissed as empty frivolity but can be actually a very sophisticated and powerful political tool, especially for marginalized cultures,” he told the outlet.
“Whether it’s pop Camp, queer Camp, high Camp or political Camp,” he continued. “I think it’s very timely.”
What should we expect on the red carpet?
Gucci’s creative director, Alessandro Michele, is among the cochairs — which include Harry Styles, Serena Williams and Lady Gaga — so we will undoubtedly see a lot of the high fashion line, as it’s collections under the 47-year-old’s hand have been the very definition of “Camp.” It makes sense as to why our girl Ms. Wintour would want this theme to be connected with the legendary fashion house.
How is the Met Gala theme chosen?
“The theme of every exhibition is decided by Andrew Bolton, who is the chief curator of the Costume Institute,” she explained on May 2. “And he sometimes can make that decision up to five years ahead.”
So, what’s her part in it? “The only advice I ever really give to Andrew is, whatever the title of the exhibition is, make sure everybody understands it immediately. That there can be no confusion about what exhibition is really about.”
Interesting — seems like this year’s theme may have stumped a few folks. “Although to be honest, this theme’s exhibition has created a little bit of confusion,” she laughed.
Thanks for clearing things up, Anna!