Camp fashion is an exaggerated, ironic, and extravagant style that revels in tackiness and artifice. It privileges exaggeration over subtlety and derives appeal from audacious displays rather than refinement or elegance.
Origins of Camp Style
The concept of “camp” originated in the early 20th century and was used to describe works of art and media that were absurdly exaggerated and self-parodying. In fashion specifically, camp style emerged as a reaction against the austerity and utilitarianism of minimalist trends. It embraced ostentatious fabrics, vibrant colors, and bold silhouettes.
Defining Features of Camp Fashion
Some key features that define camp fashion include:
Sequins and Rhinestones: Camp styles tend to feature heavy embellishments like rhinestones, sequins, metallic trims and bright, plastic-looking materials. These eye-catching details contribute to the deliberately showy and decadent aesthetic.
Clashing Patterns and Prints: Mixing wild, mismatched patterns and prints is a hallmark of camp fashion. Animal prints, florals, polka dots and stripes will often collide in a single camp outfit. This mashup of loud and bold motifs adds to the playful, tongue-in-cheek vibe.
Exaggerated Silhouettes: Camp fashion spotlights shapes and silhouettes that intentionally push boundaries. Some examples include voluminous tulle skirts, towering platform shoes, dramatically puffed sleeves and cinched corset tops.
Gender Nonconformity: Androgyny and gender fluidity are often displayed in camp fashion. Men may wear makeup, skirts or heels, while women might don menswear-inspired tailoring. These bending of gender norms align with camp’s spirit of challenging conventions.
Popular Camp Styles and Designers
Some fashion designers closely associated with camp style include Moschino, Jeremy Scott, Christian Lacroix and Thierry Mugler. Their collections often feature camp’s hallmarks like theatricality, humor and exaggeration. Specific camp styles that have emerged over the decades include 70s disco fashion, 80s punk, and modern festival wear overloaded with feathers, glitter and neon.
Is camp fashion still popular today?
Absolutely. With icons like Harry Styles, Lady Gaga and Cardi B embracing ostentatious, gender-bending looks, camp style remains ubiquitous in mainstream fashion and pop culture. Runways continue spotlighting camp touches like metallic fabrics, feather boas and plastic accessories. On social media, everyday fashion fans use camp elements as a form of creative self-expression.
So while camp fashion originated as a somewhat ironic appreciation of the outrageous and tacky, today it endures as a vibrant mode of fearless personal style.
With its emphasis on exaggeration, artificiality and defiance of fashion conventions, camp style continues inspiring avant-garde designers and creative dressers. Its influence shows no signs of waning anytime soon.