Greek Connections in the Met’s Camp: Notes on Fashion Exhibition

Fashions by Greek designer Mary Katrantzou are among those included in the Metropolitan Museum's exhibition Camp: Notes on Fashion. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

NEW YORK – Following the fanfare associated with the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute Gala featuring the exhibition Camp: Notes on Fashion, members had a chance to preview the impressive exploration of one of fashion’s most flamboyant themes before it opened to the public on May 9. Camp: Notes on Fashion also has some Greek connections. Greek designer Mary Katrantzou is among those participating in the exhibition and ancient Greek motifs inspired some of the works on display.

As noted in the exhibition overview, 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.

Quotes on camp are displayed and played throughout the exhibition as narration along with clips of songs. In Part I, narrations of historical quotes on camp are read by actor and author Rupert Everett. In Part II of the exhibition, a diverse group of designers read quotes from well-known authors and theorists on camp. Among the designers, Athens-born Katrantzou can be heard reading a quote from Susan Sontag, “Camp is the psychopathology of affluence,” and Alan Brien, “Camp is tarting up ideas in costume jewelry.”

Some designs inspired by ancient Greece are on display in the Metropolitan Museum’s exhibition Camp: Notes on Fashion including dresses by Alessandro Michele for Gucci and Karl Lagerfeld for Chloe. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

Even in the members’ preview, the exhibition was crowded, so those planning on visiting should be aware there may be a line just to get in. Once inside the exhibition, the history of camp unfurls before the viewer, leading into the huge display of more recent creations highlighting the theme. Among the famous dresses and ensembles worn by celebrities on display are the meat dress worn by Lady Gaga and the swan dress worn by Bjork, but even the lesser known designs offer a fun and even thought-provoking experience for museum-goers and fashionistas alike.

The catalogue of the exhibition by Andrew Bolton, the Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with Karen Van Godtsenhoven and Amanda Garfinkel, includes an introduction by Fabio Cleto and photographs by Johnny Dufort and is available at The Met Store. Bolton is the Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In celebration of the exhibition, The Met Store has also unveiled its exclusive Camp Collection, a retail assortment which includes a product selection from 14 fashion designers. Fans of the designers can purchase items online and at the museum’s Met Store, including printed journals designed by Katrantzou.

Camp: Notes on Fashion is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through September 8.

More information about the exhibition is available online: metmuseum.org.

At left, an ensemble by Greek designer Mary Katrantzou from 2011 is on display next to an ensemble by French designer Paul Poiret from 1912. Photo by Eleni Sakellis
The description of the ensembles by Poiret and Katrantzou on display in the exhibition. Photo by Eleni Sakellis