Last year I was lucky: I got to visit stunning fashion exhibitions. Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the Met in NYC, the Hussein Chalayan retrospective* at Les Arts Decoratifs in Paris, and Yohji Yamamoto at the V&A.
This year, I may be missing Azzedine Alaïa in the 21st Century and Iris Van Herpen at the Groninger Museum in Holland, and Louis Vuitton/Marc Jacobs at Les Arts Decoratifs (sigh..), but I am most certainly visiting the V&A again, and the Design Museum, and the Fashion and Textile Museum, and the Royal Academy… For these are hosting not one or two, but 4! fashion-themed exhibitions to look forward to – all on simultaneously at some point in May, which calls for a day off and a full immersion me thinks!
Starting off with the mighty V&A, May 19th is the official opening of Ballgowns: British glamour since 1950.
Hosted in the newly renovated Fashion Galleries, it will be all about beautiful ballgowns, red carpet evening dresses and catwalk showstoppers. Displayed over two floors, the exhibition will cover over sixty years of a strong British design tradition, and will feature more than sixty designs for social events, by designers including Victor Stiebel, Zandra Rhodes, Jonathan Saunders, Hussein Chalayan, Alexander McQueen, Giles Deacon, Erdem and Jenny Packham, plus a selection of royal ballgowns and dresses worn by actresses and celebrities.
Paris my be hosting an exhibition about Vuitton, but London is showcasing Hermes – albeit with a quick stint of less than three weeks. Leather forever explores the 175 year history of the French luxury accessories house, and its fascination with creating designer objects from leather. Founded by Thiery Hermes in 1837, the Parisian fashion house has a long established reputation for working with leather to create harnesses and saddles, before later moving onto (most famously) bags and shoes. Held in the Royal Academy of Art’s sister space, 6 Burlington Gardens, this is a chance for fans of the Hermes brand to learn more about the history of the company, through six generations of artisan crafts, which has enabled them to keep on making the same objects with the same skill and dedication since the business began.
This exhibition celebrates Louboutin’s career to date and showcases twenty years of designs and inspiration, revealing the artistry and theatricality of his shoe design from stilettos to lace-up boots, studded sneakers and bejewelled pumps. At the core of the exhibition will be a unique exploration of Louboutin’s design process, taking the visitor through every stage of the design journey, revealing how a shoe is constructed, from the initial drawing and first prototype through to production in the factory. Looking beyond design and production the exhibition will also explore the company’s innovative store design.
But then the focus moves straight back home, with Designing Women: Post-War British Textiles at the Fashion and Textile Museum.
Britain was at the forefront of international textile design in the 1950s and 1960s. The art of textile design radically changed after the Second World War and three women artists working in England in the 1950s were pivotal in this artistic revolution. The drab days of the War were transformed by the fresh, progressive designs of Lucienne Day**, Jacqueline Groag and Marian Mahler. Designing Women: Post-war British textiles showcases more than 100 of their works.
*which came after only two years from the one at the Design Museum in London, which I also reviewed for Clique Magazine
** whose textiles I admired, together with works by husband Robin, at Pallant House in Chichester. Also in 2011 – it definitely was a good year for exhibitions!