It can be difficult to predict how the general public will receive a new Costume Institute exhibition. Will audiences be shocked? Will they be bewildered? Will they be moved? This year, if anything is certain, visitors to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Camp: Notes on Fashion” exhibition will be completely and utterly wowed. After all, camp, in Susan Sontag’s words, “is the spirit of extravagance,” and the show promises to be a celebration of such fantastical fashion. As camp also often falls under the category of absurd, there will no doubt be this sort of reaction, too: “But who would ever wear that in real life?”
Celebrities would—and they do! Many of the most outrageous and eyebrow-raising looks on display in the exhibition have in fact been worn by A-listers in very real and public situations. One such garment is the fur heart coat designed by Hedi Slimane for Saint Laurent, worn on the sidewalks of New York by Rihanna with a baseball hat and jorts back in 2016. Zendaya donned a poofy, sherbet-color Marc Jacobs confection last year, which is set to go on display, and Katy Perry once wore Jeremy Scott’s playful Moschino riff on the McDonald’s logo, another cheeky design in the “Camp” lineup.
Other pieces in the collection border on infamous, none more than the swan dress Björk wore to the 2001 Academy Awards, designed by Marjan Pejoski. There is also the Thierry Mugler “shell” gown from his Fall 1995 couture collection that Cardi B wore to the Grammy Awards this year. “Camp: Notes on Fashion” is filled with sparkle, feathers, wordplay, and balloon silhouettes, much of which has been beloved by some of these very famous fashion fanatics. They are the stars who love to wear dresses that can barely fit through a door and the stars who aren’t afraid to make a statement. Here, the 11 major names that have tried camp fashion on IRL.