High Camp Before Even Higher Camp

Or, this is not how mother would wear it


Lush holiday 2018 campaign

It’s way before the first Monday of May, 2019, but Lush is already showing us what camp is about, in case you have you been living under a rock that’s not the sparkly kind. For Christmas, to boot, and before Deepavali! Not long after it was announced that the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s mega fashion exhibition at the Costume Institute next spring will be dedicated to expressions you’ll hold back before mother, pastor, and boss (not necessarily in that order), Britain’s scented-to-death Lush teased with images of their upcoming holiday campaign, featuring some individuals who can naturally out-camp the only cross-dressing person you know, Kumar.

Featuring a trio of stars from Rupaul’s Drag Race, such as Detox (above), Kim Chi, and Shea Couleé, the Lush images are, in fact, to fans of the camp-con-as-reality-TV series that will never air on Channel 5, beyond camp. But, you think Pink Dot is a blemish you see in the mirror in the morning, so as prelude to that event Lady Gaga and Harry Styles will co-chair next year, this is camp!

For all the economic value that it may bring to cosmetic sellers and sequin manufacturers, the Costume Institute’s next exhibition, we think, is somewhat redundant. Modern life is so kohled by campiness that even Lush’s advertising exuberance to get us interested in their bath balls—itself a splashy drop in the tingling tub of camp—is just one selfie-ish visual zeal after another that, in the era of Moshino X H&M’s trying flamboyance, substantiate the belief that anything is possible if you are willing to go above— and over—the top.

From the pencil-skirt-wearing literature teacher in secondary school who loves Mexican one-act plays too much to private kampong dining, set in kitschy pondan plush to vain-pot Xia Xue’s eye-opening makeup tutorial on Youtube, camp is well and alive and in all its glorified artifice and exaggeration. It is possible familiarity has habituated us to camp. We do, after all, have quite a culture of gregarious OTTness—from Michael Chiang’s cliché-ridden Beauty World to Ovidia Yu’s crime-fighting nonya, Aunty Lee—even if it is, shall we say, not quite lush.

Photo: Lush