Give this ole Farmgirl a tent, some firewood, fixins for s’mores, and a flat spot in the woods and I’m a happy camper. As art so often does, my pre-conceptions were turned upside on a recent visit to the CAMP: Notes on Fashion exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There were no tents, no trees, and while there were some beloved flames, there were no campfires. This camp was different. Here was a collection of fashion that broke barriers of what was considered the norm, representing a long historic line of fashion forward creative minds.
Walking through the exhibit it was as though I was in an adult version of Disney’s It’s A Small World ride. My eyes danced from Liberace’s diamond studded suit to a dress made entirely of toy stuffed animals. I marveled at how fun we as a people can be when we give ourselves a little creative slack.
The CAMP theme for the Met Gala fundraiser and resulting exhibit this year was derived from a 1964 essay by Susan Sontag who was a writer and social commentator. She described “camp” as a joining of high art and pop culture. The exhibit features clothes that are over the top or as my kids say “extra”. They challenge the status quo often with a dash (or heap) of humor, and meet the fine art requirement in how exquisitely they are constructed with numerous hours of skillful handiwork going into each garment.
After lingering for quite some time, often standing in silent awe in front of a display window, we had to leave the garments and all they stood for to go face the real world, which somehow seemed a little sweeter because of the exhibit. I floated out on a sugar high like a kid who had feasted in a confectionery store. Then, just like icing on the cake, we met the CAMP curator, Andrew Bolton! It was merely a few seconds when he came out a side door in a random part of the museum but we got to shake his hand and tell him how much we enjoyed the show.
So what’s my Farmgirl “camping” experience take-away? Simply put, the exhibit validates crazy outfits and gives designers freedom to have fun. It sets the stage for my daughter and her generation of fellow fashion designers, encouraging them to not hold back. I’m grateful she’ll have that kind of artistic license. It also gives all of us creatives who have ever felt out of place, a place.
I might have always been a tank-top and cut-offs wearing country girl, but I grew up imagining I could be the exotic Cher Barbie doll I played with…and a trip to the Big Apple (make that the Big Candy Apple) and specifically the CAMP exhibit told me sometimes dreams and fantasies to come true.
Visual notes on "...Notes..."
Remember: Sometimes you just have to "vogue" like nobody's watching or you don't care even if they are...like my daughter and I on the steps of the Met!
CAMP: Notes on Fashion is showing at the Metropolitan Museum Of Art in Manhattan, NYC until September 8, 2019.
#metmuseum #metgala #fashion #nyny #travel #manhattan #andrewbolton #vogue #CAMP