Is Camp A Personal Style

Lets talk camp and no not the place from your childhood.  Or glam-camping glamping in the elements to say you can “rough it”.  This type of camp isn’t a place.  But it is an escape.  Make no mistake.

Camp took over this first Monday of May known as “Camp: Notes on Fashion” and I couldn’t help but ponder the begging question of camp.  Why isn’t it a personal style?  Doesn’t it have an identity and a conversation to follow?  Aren’t there individuals out there that dress a little “out-there” or extra-ordinary?  Wouldn’t that be their signature?

Okay So What Is Camp?

Camp is an adjective, verb, and noun.  It is in the eye of the beholder.  It is not a judgement or shtick but rather a strong appreciation for queer and ball culture, dating back to the 17th century.  So why is it not a personal style?  Because it requires an audience.  It could be an extravagant entrance :cough: Billy Porter, a decked out gown, outrageous makeup or hair.  In a tasteful way, it is an exaggerated use of perceived distasteful value(s).

Camp As a Verb

Trying to simplify this as best I can.  Camp is a performance and performances are not reality.  You wouldn’t see a man cat-walking on cobblestones carrying a replica of his own head IRL and not be the least bit alarmed—check your pulse and eyesight to make sure you’re not in fact insane?  But it sure makes heads turn to compliment such a glorious Gucci gown in red :cough: Jared Leto. Camp is entirely about theatrics and associated with the word playful.  Susan Sontag defined and quoted it to be “anti-serious; a dethronement of the serious.”  It’s all for show; to make a lasting, perplexed, or torn impression.  Camp as a behavior coins it as a verb.

Camp As An Adjective

Camp is for mere sport and pure fun.  Films can be campy.  It’s the time for you to act animated, without poise, and a fool if you choose.  It’s your excuse to live your wildest fantasy.  It’s the opportunity to wear the impractical and even unwearable.  Could you realistically, dine in a restaurant dressed as a candelabra adorned with crystals and fully lit bulbs?  No, you would have trouble walking in it never-mind sitting for an extended period of time.  It’s not sensible, but doesn’t it look grand on a red pink carpet?  Bet that Katy Perry had a ball twirling around in too.  This surrealism was brought to life by the talented and imaginative Moschino.  Again, camp is what the observer concurs this fashion to be or not be.

Camp As A Noun

Camp is an aesthetic: a conception of beauty, or art.  An aesthetic is made of elements—fashion being one of them.  We can have nods to Camp in our appearance, behavior, and language use.  Hailey Baldwin Rhode Bieber wore the prettiest pink sequin Alexander Wang gown to have a surprise party in her backside.  The AW bedazzled thong took center stage over her picture-perfect dolly blonde ponytail.  You remember hoisting one up to peek-out of your low risers, tastefully of course.  Small yet on display this was subtle camp.  We wore this once to defy societal norms, no?  No wait, we saw it in music videos.

Camp Has A Royal Court

We also saw stars in our eyes or rather on someone’s cheeks.  We became obsessively opposed to the typical.  We were introduced to a different kind of ostentatious.  A pleasing kind.  The incomparable goddess of who is Lady Gaga: The Queen of Camp and Co-Chair of the Met this year showed us how it’s done.  Brandon Maxwell enveloped her to shed her skin in the most massive, magical, fantastical, remarkable four-outfit reveal we have ever seen.  An entourage of male dancers fanning umbrellas around her paying homage to Audrey Hepburn and then Marilyn Monroe.  It took nine people to help tame her 25 foot hot-pink train from blowing away or ary.  Her 10 year beauty and style team joined her for her extravagant hairspray, lipstick hot-pink bit.  A Judith Leiber giant black cell phone bag?  An adornment of Tiffany diamonds, Negligee, and Haus of Gaga a la cart?  Retro glamour, yes we live for the camp.

Which brings me to my next topic.  Will this change fashion for us today?  We’ve seen to believe how Camp can go horribly right; can we go back to the usual and ordinary?

Other key words in reference to Camp: parade, dramatic, artifice, unnatural, towering, over-the-top, giant. 

Curious to read the real expert’s study?  Mine’s in the mail. Notes on Camp (Penguin Modern) by Susan Sontag


Susan Sontag PC: Vulture


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