Style/art/fashion news from earlier this week:
“The Costume Institute’s spring 2019 exhibition [CAMP: Notes on Fashion] explores the origins of camp’s exuberant aesthetic. Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay ‘Notes on “Camp”‘ provides the framework for the exhibition, which examines how the elements of irony, humor, parody, pastiche, artifice, theatricality, and exaggeration are expressed in fashion.”
Could we also look for camp (both intentional and intentional) in the visual presentation of perfume? I think we can.
Here are a few examples, paired with quotes from Sontag’s landmark essay…
“Camp is a vision of the world in terms of style — but a particular kind of style. It is the love of the exaggerated, the ‘off,’ of things-being-what-they-are-not.”
“Indeed the essence of Camp is its love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration.”
“Camp is the consistently aesthetic experience of the world. It incarnates a victory of ‘style’ over ‘content,’ ‘aesthetics’ over ‘morality,’ of irony over tragedy.”
“The soundest starting point seems to be the late 17th and early 18th century, because of that period’s extraordinary feeling for artifice, for surface, for symmetry; its taste for the picturesque and the thrilling…”
“Camp is art that proposes itself seriously, but cannot be taken altogether seriously because it is ‘too much.'”
“The whole point of Camp is to dethrone the serious. Camp is playful, anti-serious. More precisely, Camp involves a new, more complex relation to ‘the serious.’ One can be serious about the frivolous, frivolous about the serious.”
“Many of the objects prized by Camp taste are old-fashioned, out-of-date, démodé. It’s not a love of the old as such. It’s simply that the process of aging or deterioration provides the necessary detachment — or arouses a necessary sympathy.”
“Allied to the Camp taste for the androgynous is something that seems quite different but isn’t: a relish for the exaggeration of sexual characteristics and personality mannerisms.”
“Camp is the attempt to do something extraordinary. But extraordinary in the sense, often, of being special, glamorous.”
“Camp taste is by its nature possible only in affluent societies, in societies or circles capable of experiencing the psychopathology of affluence.”
“Considered a little less strictly, Camp is either completely naive or else wholly conscious (when one plays at being campy).”
“To camp is a mode of seduction — one which employs flamboyant mannerisms susceptible of a double interpretation; gestures full of duplicity, with a witty meaning for cognoscenti and another, more impersonal, for outsiders.”
“The peculiar relation between Camp taste and homosexuality has to be explained. While it’s not true that Camp taste is homosexual taste, there is no doubt a peculiar affinity and overlap.”
“The ultimate Camp statement: it’s good because it’s awful.”
(All quotes from Susan Sontag’s “Notes on ‘Camp,'” 1964)
Do you own any perfumes that you’d consider campy? Feel free to share in the comments.
Loved this. Thank you for it. How have I never seen that limited edition Boudoir bottle?! I would do anything to have that toile scene printed on the bottle.
Therabbitsflower, same here!! Maybe it wasn’t available everywhere? I would have purchased it just for the packaging, too!