List

The 20 Campiest Fashion Movies

By Mary Simon

The first Monday night in May, all eyes turn to New York City and the annual Met Gala. Celebrities and fashion insiders descend upon the Metropolitan Museum of Art and, this year's exhibition was framed around Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay Notes on "Camp." Bolton found Sontag’s writings so timely with what is going on culturally and politically that, “[he] felt it would have a lot of cultural resonance.” In light of the Met theme, I have put together a list of the most absurdist, out-of-this-world, exaggerated, futuristic, cheeky costume designs used in movies!

  • What A Way to Go!

    2004

    Costume Designer: Edith Head. Shirley MacLaine uses the Edith Head-designed wardrobe to seduce and sway many husbands. And I do mean many! This dark comedy has all the right ingredients for campy fun.

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  • Mahogany

    2007

    Costume Designer: Diana Ross. Ross sings the theme song and plays the main character. Her costume designs were stunning and outlandish at the same time.

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  • Xanadu

    2008

    Costume Designer: Bobbie Mannix. Talk about a wild mix of innocence and alluring. Olivia Newton-John in everything from fringed-out cowgirl cosplay to Andrews Sisters–swing and boogie-woogie era garb. But truly the best costume is the pink ruffled roller-girl outfit she wears to transfix artist Sonny Malone.

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  • What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

    2012

    Costume Designer: Norma Koch. The ultimate diva showdown! When it comes to campy costumes, nothing can top Davis in her powdered fright wig and smeared lipstick. Rumor has it that Davis conceived this look to highlight Jane’s descent into madness

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  • Staying Alive

    2017

    Costume Designer: Tom Bronson. Who can forget loincloth-clad John Travolta dancing through strobe lights while everyone else wears a combination of 1980s workout spandex and BDSM gear.

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  • Romy and Michele's High School Reunion

    1997

    Costume Designer: Mona May. Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino are the ultimate style junkies, exercising in heels and constantly making sure they are party-ready. Outlandish but fun.

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  • Blacula: Scream, Blacula, Scream

    2009

    Costume Designers: Ermon Sessions and Sandra Stewart. The hero's main costume, a black silk cape and ruffled cravat, complements eerily his lady love, Luva, and her ‘70s-style Afrocentric fashions.

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  • Barbarella

    1999

    Costume Designer: Jacques Fonteray. Though the space-age costumes are often erroneously credited to Paco Rabanne (who did inspire the metallic catsuit worn by Jane Fonda in the final battle), the film’s costume design was actually the work of Jacques Fonteray. In black-and-silver thigh-high boots, half capes, and leotards with plastic panels, Fonda’s character embodied mod style in all its glory.

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  • Auntie Mame

    2002

    Costume Designer: Orry-Kelly. With her orphaned nephew serving as her ward, Mame travels the world in style, taking on each adventure in sumptuous Orry-Kelly–designed frock coats and furs.

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  • Mommie Dearest

    2001

    Costume Designer: Irene Sharaff. Everything about star Faye Dunaway is exaggerated, from her painted-on eyebrows to the massive shoulder pads she sports throughout the film. Isn't this the very definition of camp?

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  • To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar

    2002

    Costume Designer: Marlene Stewart. Drag queens in a rural setting. Can't get much more camp than that. And, each queen has her own aesthetic: Vida Boheme is a Southern belle, Ch-Chi is a Latinx “drag princess,” and Noxeema is a no-nonsense diva with a wardrobe to die for. Don't think for a minute that the country backdrop will stop the group from dressing to the nines.

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  • The Gang's All Here

    2008

    Costume Designer: Yvonne Wood. The Busby Berkeley movie introduced Americans to club singer Dorita (played by Carmen Miranda) and her Tutti Frutti hat and her wild Caribbean club costumes, which became part of her signature act.

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  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again

    2016

    Costume Designer: Sue Blane. The show's costumes have delighted audiences for generations. Since the film came out in 1975, devotees can still be seen wearing them throughout the world.

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  • Tank Girl

    2002

    Costume Designer: Arianne Phillips. Steampunk never looked better, complete with cone bras and goggles, as well as mutant kangaroos and a post-apocalyptic environmental warrior plot without clean water.

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