Lonely Planet Writer

Loved the Met Gala? See the new exhibition that inspired it

Each year, the Met Gala wows with a dazzling mix of celebrities and fashion, and with the star-studded event co-chaired by Lady Gaga, Alessandro Michele, Harry Styles, Serena Williams and Anna Wintour, this year was no exception.

Katy Perry attends The 2019 Met Gala dressed as a chandelier. Image by Rabbani and Solimene Photography/WireImag

The theme of Monday’s event was ‘Camp’, inspiring some pretty eye-catching outfits. But the theme has a greater purpose than just to ensure a good party, it also introduces the brand new exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Lady Gaga in her first costume of the night. Image by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

The Costume Institute’s spring 2019 exhibition is Camp: Notes on Fashion and will be on view from 9 May to 8 September. It will explore “the origins of camp’s exuberant aesthetic and how the sensibility evolved from a place of marginality to become an important influence on mainstream culture,” according to the Met. Taking its origin from Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay “Notes on ‘Camp’”, the exhibition will look at how fashion designers engage with the “ironic sensibilities of this audacious style.”

While the exhibition takes its roots from an essay exploring what camp means, it is still difficult to pin down the aesthetic. Camp is often associated with queer culture and icons like Oscar Wilde, however, even a tagline on a video about the exhibition reads: “Come to the exhibition and define it for yourself”.

Actor Ezra Miller bends the mind with third-eye make-up. Image by Karwai Tang/Getty Images

Wondering what will actually be on view? Well, there will be 250 objects, including men and women’s clothing, sculptures, paintings and drawings from the 17th century to now. Beginning with the royal court of Versailles, it will trace through history to the Victorian dandy and to queer subcultures in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Actor Billy Porter arrives as an Egyptian pharaoh. Image by John Lamparski/Getty

Last year’s Met Gala saw incredible outfits inspired by the Catholic church. The exhibition, Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, became the most-visited in the history of the Met.