This Barbie’s looking camp right in the eye

This Barbie’s looking camp right in the eye

by Ollie Cox
4 min

From L.A. to London, Greta Gerwig’s Barbie the Movie has tinted the world pink and, by default, put camp back in the spotlight. For many, the art of being theatrical and exaggerated in the clothes you wear – aka being camp – is as natural as getting dressed. It’s about not taking yourself too seriously, instead focusing on how clothing and fashion in general makes us feel. But for those of you who aren’t sure what it means to dress “camp” (we’re looking at you Karlie Kloss) here’s a rundown.

@barbiethemovie

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, you’ll have seen how Y2K fashion has influenced almost every popular trend in recent years in one way or another. The return of brightly coloured Juicy Couture track pants and animal prints to the runway, the highstreets, and our wardrobes are a great example of how the style has infiltrated the zeitgeist. And we have to say, it’s pretty f***ing camp.

Until this year, camp had only existed in a small way amongst other fashion trends, some of which took on the hypermasculine style codes of retro football fashion (we see you, blokette core). However, fast forward to July and the world was bombarded with Barbie mania in all its nostalgia-drenched glory. People of all ages have since embraced the fun-filled escapism from the world by donning colours and looks that emulated those seen on screen. 

According to Susan Sontag’s famous short essay, Notes on Camp, it’s a “sensibility that reveals artifice, stylization, theatricalization, irony, playfulness, and exaggeration other than content”. Seems that Barbie took notes and excelled at the assignment, through the Barbie press tour which commenced with an array of camp looks gracing the pink carpet, placing loud Barbie pink front and centre, punctuated with more muted colours.

@shaymitchell ©

Shay Mitchell was seen in an exaggerated off-the-shoulder Shushu/tong dress with petite bow-tie detailing; Ryan Gosling’s pastel Gucci suit was worn in several colours, from pink to green, revealing him to be a master in the art of camp fashion; and Hari Nef, who played Dr. Barbie in the movie, taught us how to bring camp to the black dress. She chose to wear Turkish designer Dilara Findikoglu’s viral “Joan’s Knives” dress, inspired by Joan of Arc. 

@harinef ©

Despite Barbie bringing camp to the spotlight in 2023, there’s no denying that camp had already made a mark beyond Barbie land long before the movie came out, with Comme des Garçons founder and designer Rei Kawakubo weaving camp into exaggerated proportions, and kitsch colour matching using a bold palette in her AW 2018 collection. 

Likewise, Dean and Dan Caten’s DSQAURED2 have long infused camp fashion styles into their collections. In its recent AW23 collection, the brand included Canadian outerwear, crystal denim, cowboy leather jockstraps and lace underwear, showing us that camp never left and can be elevated to the runway. 

Whether seasoned in the art of exaggerated dressing or a novice, camp is a happy hangover welcomed in the post-Barbie world, and we’re here for it. 

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