Fashion Shows in Museums Are On the Rise! Here Are 6 Not To Miss
Art and fashion have been entangled in a rich, give-and-take relationship for centuries, stretching beyond boundaries and cultures. Throughout history, fashion has often looked at the arts for inspiration, but also vice versa.
The internet is still buzzing about the recently held Met Gala, an extravagant party signaling the opening of the Costume Institute’s annual blockbuster show. The overwhelming success of these annual shows indicates how the public’s appetite for museum fashion shows is on the rise. Its 2018 show, Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, was visited by nearly 1.7 million people, breaking the Met’s previous record set in 1978 with Treasures of King Tutankhamun. The Costume Institute’s big fashion exhibit for 2019 focuses on camp, arguably one of the most slippery, hard-to-define concepts.
In recent times, other museums have been following this lead, staging a range of fashion-focused shows. This year will be no exception. We bring you six exquisite museum fashion shows taking place around the world that you should definitely put in your event calendar.
Featured image: V&A, Christian Dior Designer of Dreams exhibition, Historicism Section © Adrian Dirand.
Camp at The Met
In a current show titled Camp: Notes on Fashion, The Met‘s Costume Institute explores camp fashion across the centuries, from the playful to the outrageous. In a pink-hued setting, the display brings together more than 250 objects dating from the seventeenth century to the present. Exploring origins of camp’s exuberant aesthetic, the exhibition references the 1964 essay by Susan Sontag titled Notes on Camp, where the author investigates how the elements of irony, humor, parody, pastiche, artifice, theatricality, and exaggeration are expressed in fashion.
The show will be accompanied by a catalog featuring new photography and insightful essays, this multifaceted two-volume set reveals how fashion embraces and flaunts the camp sensibility.
The exhibition Camp: Notes on Fashion will be on view at The Met in New York until September 8th, 2019.
Featured image: Wedding Ensemble, Alejandro Gómez Palomo for Palomo Spain, spring/summer 2018; Courtesy of Palomo Spain. Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photo © Johnny Dufort, 2019; Ensemble, Bertrand Guyon and headpiece by Stephen Jones for House of Schiaparelli, fall/winter 2018–19 haute couture; Courtesy of Schiaparelli. Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photo © Johnny Dufort, 2019; Ensemble, Alessandro Michele for Gucci, fall/winter 2016–17; Courtesy of Gucci Historical Archive. Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photo © Johnny Dufort, 2018. Images courtesy The Met.
Christian Dior at the Victoria and Albert Museum
Currently on view at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the show Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams has been described by some critics as inspirational as the French designer’s New Look, back when it launched in 1947. Spanning from that moment to the present day, this show traces the history and impact of one of the 20th century’s most influential couturiers, exploring the enduring influence of the fashion house, and Dior’s relationship with Britain. The famed designer once remarked:
There is no other country in the world, besides my own, whose way of life I like so much. I love English traditions, English politeness, English architecture. I even love English cooking.
The audience will have an opportunity to see over 200 rare Haute Couture garments drawn from the museum’s collection and the extensive Dior Archives, accompanied by accessories, fashion photography, film, vintage perfume, original make-up, illustrations, magazines, and Christian Dior’s personal possessions.
Although the show is currently sold out, very few tickets are released each morning on a “first come, first served” basis and are available at the Grand Entrance on Cromwell Road.
The show Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams will be on view at the V&A in London until September 1st, 2019.
Featured image: V&A, Christian Dior Designer of Dreams exhibition, The Garden section © Adrian Dirand; V&A, Christian Dior Designer of Dreams exhibition, Atelier Section © Adrian Dirand; V&A, Christian Dior Designer of Dreams exhibition, Ballroom Section © Adrian Dirand; V&A, Christian Dior Designer of Dreams exhibition, Travels Section © Adrian Dirand
Gender Bending Fashion at the MFA
On view at The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the exhibition Gender Bending Fashion explores a century of haute couture and ready-to-wear fashion, celebrating style that dares to break the rules. Examining a rich history of fashion disrupting, blurring, and redefining conventions and expectations around the relationship between gender and dress, it brings together more than 60 boundary-pushing designs by contemporary designers such as Rad Hourani, Jean Paul Gaultier, Alessandro Michele for Gucci, Palomo, and Rei Kawakubo, but also pieces worn by actors, musicians, and influencers such as Marlene Dietrich, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix.
Drawn from the MFA’s collection as well as loans from museums, archives, private collections, and fashion houses garments on view tackle a range of narratives and issues, from gender identity and expression to sexuality, race, class, pop culture, activism and social justice, and more.
The exhibition Gender Bending Fashion will be on view at the MFA Boston until August 25th, 2019.
Featured images: Alessandro Trincone, Annodami collection, Spring/Summer 2017; Adidas ensemble, 2018, Jeremy Scott; David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold the World album cover, 1970.
Manolo Blahnik at the Wallace Collection
Realized in partnership between Manolo Blahnik and the Wallace Collection, the exhibition An Enquiring Mind: Manolo Blahnik at the Wallace Collection juxtaposes an icon from the world of contemporary fashion with Wallace’s outstanding collection that has been an inspiration to artists since it opened to the public in 1900.
Co-curated by Wallace Collection Director, Dr Xavier Bray, and Manolo Blahnik himself, it will bring together a personally selected edit of shoe designs from Blahnik’s private archives, celebrating the designer’s long-held fascination with the Wallace Collection and providing an unprecedented exploration of his creative process.
An Enquiring Mind: Manolo Blahnik at the Wallace Collection will be on view in London from June 10th until October 27, 2019.
Featured image: Antoinetta © Manolo Blahnik; Olvida © Manolo Blahnik; Small Drawing Room © The Wallace Collection.
Balenciaga and Spanish Painting at Thyssen-Bornemisza Museo Nacional
The upcoming show at Thyssen-Bornemisza Museo Nacional will connect the work of Cristóbal Balenciaga, one of the most admired and influential fashion designers of all time, with the tradition of 16th- to 20th-century Spanish painting. Throughout his career, the designer has been referencing Spanish art and culture, specifically the simple, minimalist lines of religious habits or the architectural volume of their cloth.
Curated by Eloy Martínez de la Pera, Balenciaga and Spanish Painting will bring together a carefully selected group of paintings loaned from private Spanish collections and public museums, accompanied by a group of important creations by Balenciaga, loaned from the Museo Balenciaga in Guetaria, Museo del Traje in Madrid and Museu del Disseny in Barcelona and other international and national private collections.
Balenciaga and Spanish Painting will be on view at Thyssen-Bornemisza Museo Nacional in Madrid from June 18th until September 22nd, 2019.
Featured image: Left: El Greco – The Annunciation, 1576. Oil on canvas, 117 x 98 cm. Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid / Right: Evening gown, silk organza. Collecion de Dominique Sirop, Paris © Jon Cazenave; Left: Rodrigo de Villandrando – Isabel de Borbon, Wife of Philip IV, 1620. Oil on canvas, 201 x 115 cm Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid © Archivo Fotografico Museo Nacional del Prado / Right: Wedding dress, silk shantung embroidered with silver thread. Cristobal Balenciaga Museo Getaria © Museo Cristobal Balenciaga © Jon Cazenave; Left: Dress and overskirt evening outfit, cotton tulle dress embroidered with metallic thread over rayon satin, silk taffeta overskirt. Museo del Traje, Madrid. Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte © Jon Cazenave / Right: Francisco de Zubaran – Saint Elisabeth of Portugal, 1635. Oil on canvas, 184 x 98 cm. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid © Archivo Fotografico Museo Nacional del Prado.
Virgil Abloh at The MCA
Finally, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago will mount the first museum exhibition devoted to the work of the genre-bending artist and designer Virgil Abloh, a pioneer whose practice cuts across media and connects visual artists, musicians, graphic designers, fashion designers, and architects. Titled Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech and set in an immersive space designated by Samir Bantal, the Director of AMO, the show provides an insight into defining highlights of Abloh’s career, including a program of cross-disciplinary offerings that will mirror the artist’s range of interests across music, fashion, architecture, and design.
The exhibition Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech will be on view at the MCA in Chicago from June 10th until September 22nd, 2019.
Featured image: Off-White™ c/o Virgil Abloh, Pre-Fall 2016, Look 14; courtesy of Off-White™ c/o Virgil Abloh. Photo- Fabien Montique; Off-White™ c/o Virgil Abloh, Spring/Summer 2018, Look 11; courtesy of Off-White™ c/o Virgil Abloh. Photo by Fabien Montique; Off-White™ c/o Virgil Abloh, Summer/Spring 2014; courtesy of Off-White™ c/o Virgil Abloh. Photo by Enrico Ranzato.