No one can completely agree on what the aesthetic sensibility of “camp” means, but at this year’s camp-themed Met Gala, everyone seemed to agree on one thing: Camp is pink.
The pinkening started from the top. Every year, the Met Gala takes its theme from the annual show put on by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, and in 2019, that show is “Camp: Notes on Fashion” a nod to Susan Sontag’s famous essay on an aesthetic she described as “love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration.”
And the Met made it clear that the way to advertise an exhibit on camp is with pink. The exhibit’s poster features the title superimposed on a pink background, next to a mannequin wearing a pink flamingo mask and a pink shirt printed with more pink flamingos.
At the gala itself, the red carpet was pink, surrounded by pink roses. The Twitter hashtag #MetGala came with a little pink flamingo emoji attached. Anna Wintour, Vogue’s editor-in-chief and the host of the event, wore pink feathers.
Lady Gaga wore two pink dresses (plus a black one and some sparkly lingerie). Vogue declared pink “the color that won the 2019 Met Gala,” noting, “What else but a penchant for pink could link Louis XVI and Barbie?”
How did this happen? When and why did fashion’s elite decide that our biggest cultural signifier of camp is just … pink?