I still remember the first things that came to mind when my photography professor proposed a “DIY fashion accessory” assignment while I was studying abroad in Paris. Safety pins and paper clip earrings fit that description and won’t require much effort. Tony wasn’t too far off from my train of thought, and I clearly remember the shit we gave him when he vocalized his thoughts on making a macaroni necklace. But after attending a fashion week event in person and seeing some of these outfits that can only be described as “camp,” I wonder if all we lacked was status in the fashion world, and more balls than what we had combined.
The Paris Fashion Week for F/W 2020 was my first high fashion experience, and a week of attending the Men’s shows and afterparties really had me thinking. Of what, I’m not certain yet, and this essay is also on part an attempt to organize and articulate those thoughts. Fashion wasn’t always “camp” – a quick Google search of fashion from the late 1900s would prove that. I would argue that camp fashion is so prevalent today on part due to the rise of the LGBT rights movement, which the term “camp” had somewhat been inseparable from, although I’m not sure how historically accurate this statement is. Susan Sontag’s “Notes on Camp” would perhaps provide a more literal definition of the word; but I think we had enough of that after the 2019 Met Gala. I’m more interested about “Camp” being taken out of context, because a nagging “shower thought” I had all along was what if camp fashion is one of those things like alcohol, where no one actually understands it, but we grow to accept an ability to enjoy it as some form of social capital? Since it relies so much on mutual reassurance, what if we take an influencer’s fanbase away and no one is around to reinforce their bold fashion decisions?
Held in the most discreet of all locations I had the honor to visit this year, Angus Chiang and his team chose a high school gymnasium. It was accessible after four flights of stairs down from ground level, only after passing through the security gate of the school’s back entrance. Needless to say, it was designed to be secretive – to the point where people had trouble finding the show at first. Guests dressed in all sorts of well-thought-out costumes paced the four corners of the school, looking for a sign indicating a fashion show entrance. Groups of influencers with lit cigarettes sheepishly inched away from high school children as the school bell sounded. Parents threw disapproving glares at the unfamiliar faces. It was awkward, to say the least.
The show was phenomenal, there is no doubt about that. The ready-to-wear collections are always more for “everyday” wear and can be appreciated by commoners like myself; couture is weirder. What triggered a thought experiment was when my friend replied to an Instagram story saying, “I could do that,” normally an ignorant comment to be responded with “but you didn’t!” But she was referring to the simple red photography backdrops set up on the runway before the press stand. Yeah, I guess I could do that too.
Interestingly, Angus Chiang and his art director chose to present the clothes on models wearing red, blue, and green morph suits to go with his computer and technology theme. I hypothesize that the purpose was to not distract the audience with the beautiful models, rather, focus on the clothing. But I could do that too.
What would the tourists and people of Paris think if I bring the runway to the city?
Photographer: Johnnie Yu / @johnnie.yu
Model: Agata Suduiko / @agatasuduiko
Assistant & BTS Photography: Ruobing (Snow) Yang / @ruobingsnow