The word is on everyone’s (or almost everyone’s) lips, but no one can clearly define what it means: “Camp”. History tells us that the term dates back to the Court of Versailles, where the term “se camper” (“to camp oneself”) was used to mean taking a determined, provocative attitude to stand out and make a good impression on the king.
Currently, an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art de New York offers a perspective — from the point of view of fashion — of this philosophy, theorized by Susan Sontag in an essay published in 1964, “Notes on ‘Camps’”, published by Penguin. In the piece, she explains: “Camp is a certain mode of aestheticism. It is one way of seeing the world as an aesthetic phenomenon. That way, the way of Camp, is not in terms of beauty, but in terms of the degree of artifice, of stylization. It goes without saying that Camp sensibility is disengaged, depoliticized – or at least apolitical...” She adds, “The essence of Camp is its love of the unnatural, of artifice and exaggeration.” It is therefore about being free, being proud of who you are, not holding back, eschewing taboo, and being seriously frivolous.
The artistic and aesthetic spheres are at the heart of the Camp movement, provided that artists, designers, stylists and creators of all kinds do not shy away behind a façade of anything and- everything, overlooking style. “When something is just bad (rather than Camp),” writes Susan Sontag, “it's often because... The artist hasn't attempted to do anything really outlandish. ‘It's too much,’ ‘It's too fantastic,’ ‘It's not to be believed,’ are standard phrases of Camp enthusiasm.” This enthusiasm is shared by eyeglass designers who do not hesitate to surprise the eye and break through the lines to raise the creative bar by choosing their imaginary Camp...