Arts & Culture

Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, and Serena Williams Will Co-Chair the 2019 Met Gala

The theme of the event is "camp." Allow us to explain what that means.

After 2018's "Heavenly Bodies," which explored the relationship between Catholicism and clothing, both high fashion and papal vestments, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is doing a complete 180 with their the 2019 costume institute show and Met Gala theme. They're going full camp.

“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,” Andrew Bolton, the curator of the Costume Institute, told the New York Times. “Whether it’s pop camp, queer camp, high camp or political camp—Trump is a very camp figure—I think it’s very timely.”

Specifically, the exhibit will take inspiration from Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay "Notes on 'Camp,'" which can be read in full on the Georgetown University website, and outlines 58 elements of the genre, including one "ultimate Camp statement."

"It's good because it's awful," she wrote, before adding the caveat "... of course, one can't always say that. Only under certain conditions, those which I've tried to sketch in these notes."

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

How will Bolton and his staff make their curatorial choices? We don't know the answer to that yet—but it won't be easy. “Sontag in her essay said not everything is camp, but since I have been working on the show, I have started to think it is everywhere, and that all fashion is on some level camp,” said Bolton. “It has gained such currency it has become invisible, and part of my goal is to make it visible again.”

The exhibit, which is being underwritten by Gucci, will highlight 175 pieces and will be split into two sections, one of which will focus on the history and the origins of camp, which, at least according to the Times, are varied and include both Versaille and the Stonewall Riots. The second part of the show will "focus on camp as expressed in the work of contemporary designers" including Charles Frederick Worth, Balenciaga, and Miuccia Prada. Bolton also revealed that approximately 37 designers will be featured in the show, and the exhibit will include not only clothing but also sculpture, paintings, and drawings.


Every year, the Met Gala takes its theme from the costume institute's exhibit, so we say bring on the wigs and the irony. Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, and Serena Williams will all serve as co-chairs of the fundraising event this year alongside Anna Wintour. 

This story originally appeared on
Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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Caroline Hallemann
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