In 1964, a 31-year-old Susan Sontag published what became her seminal ‘Notes on “Camp”’, a literal list of observations, considerations and descriptions trying to explain the titular amorphous concept. It became one of her most cited works of cultural criticism and the inspiration for 2019’s Costume Institute show at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, ‘Camp: Notes On Fashion’. As always, the famed gala opening event drew throngs of media attention, perhaps propelled even more so by the inherent extravagance of the theme. But both the red carpet and the exhibit itself revealed what happens when an industry hungry for intellectual clout and corporations likewise ravenous for the sheen of respectability fail to fully understand the subject at hand, jeopardizing meaningful scholarship in the process.

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