At last, London Fashion Umbrella is back to its weekly Wednesday schedule! While I have been on hiatus from the column, so many exciting exhibitions have sprung up in and around London, so my first order of business is to round up some highlights. I’ll be periodically publishing a calendar like this one of dress-related exhibitions and events with vital info and brief commentary. I won’t be doing in-depth reviews any longer, in favour of bringing you a more diverse column.
Before the academic year gets back into swing, there’s plenty to feed your head going on in London. Here’s my curated picks:
Fashion Rules: Dress from the collections of HM the Queen, Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales
Kensington Palace Now until summer 2015
‘More royal fashion?’ you might be thinking. Seems the British population and tourists alike can never get enough of the pomp and opulence of a frock worn by a member of the Royal Family. Kensington Palace promises to hone in on three Royal women and how their wardrobes epitomised and have come to reflect significant fashion trends of their time. Even if, like me, you are more interested in the dress of the common people than of the great and good, this exhibition holds information and insights that tell us about dressing in Britain both in and out of the palace walls. It’s going to be a fixture on the UK exhibition map for a good long time, and there’s well-designed online content, including a specially commissioned version of drawing app Paper to satisfy your curiosity before visiting or to afford you a worthwhile virtual visit if you won’t be passing near the Palace in the next two years!
Kate Moss – the Collection – Curated by Gert Elfering
Viewing: Christie’s London King Street 21-25 September 2013
Next to Royalty, celebrity comes close in as a point of obsession for fashion exhibiting in London this summer. Christie’s London is set to offer for sale a collection of art and photographic works featuring national treasure, Kate Moss. Again, whether you love or loathe her, the fact of the collection, its potential selling value and seeing the many manifestations of a fashion muse in one place, are reasons to pop over and see these works before they get consumed into private collections.
In My Fashion: the Suzy Menkes Collection
Christie’s online auction only 11-22 of July 2013
While Kate Moss is undoubtedly a voice of fashion despite having being oft-critiscised for what her image contributes to damaging stereotypes of women, Christie’s has also reserved auction space for another strong voice of fashion – fashion journalist Suzy Menkes. Perhaps known more for substance than style, Menkes’ wardrobe and sense of personal style are a testament to her taste, affinities and relationships with designers and design. Menkes is personally offering up 90 lots of items from her wardrobe, which she claims never to have purged! This auction has ended, but the online catalogue will give you a look at some marvelous garments and accessories most of which were likely to be sold at modest prices, and exist in wearable sizes. Hopefully this inspires buyers not only to collect garments from the Menkes collection, but to wear them as well!
Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980s
Victoria and Albert Museum July 10, 2013 until February 16, 2014
The title of this exhibition sounds suspiciously similar to the Costume Institute’s Punk: Chaos to Couture, but it promises a whole different approach to displaying and deconstructing the relationship between subcultural style and commercial fashion. The exhibition showcases fashions by designers who were enmired in and inspired by London’s vibrant post-punk club scenes. Fans of glam-rock and its fashion progenies may have already been to the V&A recently to admire the togs of David Bowie, but Club to Catwalk will be worth another fashion pilgrimage to South Kensington. As always, the V&A is hosting a wealth of events and heaps of online content to accompany and support the exhibition.
EverYoung, James Barnor
Impressions Gallery Bradford, UK July 5 through August 31, 2013
Portrait photography is a key source of fashion information, and thus exhibitions such as this one, despite having no mention of being “fashion exhibitions” often turn out to be more exciting and informative than those that scream the fact. James Barnor’s street and studio photographs, taken in Ghana and London from the late 1940s to early 1970s show us fashions of these times and places as a portrait of time and place and a testament to the role of dress in identities.
Fashion and Textile Museum 12 July through 31 August, 2013
Ten years ago, the Fashion and Textile Museum London was established by fashion and textile designer Zandra Rhodes. In the past decade it has hosted many exhibitions that include her designs and pieces from her archive. However, Zandra Rhodes Unseen offers a comprehensive look at her prolific career, while it marks the anniversary of the museum with an homage to its founder.
Somerset House East Wing Galleries 23 May until 1 September, 2013
These days when you hear the name of a new fashion photographer it only takes a few clicks to call up images of their work online. More and more works by photographers shooting before the digital age are also being archived and re-disseminated online. Yet, the name of an influential and prolific designer of one of my favourite periods of fashion history somehow eluded me until now. Probably, I have seen many of his works before, and I certainly can do a bit of internet research on him now, but I think I will wait and go check out the rarely seen images from his Central Park Studio at Somerset House.
Somerset House Embankment Galleries 10 July until 29 September 2013
The words Miles Aldridge conjure for me bright colours, sharp edges, shiny textures and faraway looks in the eyes of beautiful but hard women. I also smell the scent of glossy magazines when I hear his name. Since Somerset House is hosting an exhibition of his works to coincide with the release of a new monograph by Rizzoli, I’ll be able to see Aldridge’s works in a new way. As large scale prints, free from the magazine pages. I imagine the colours will seem brighter, the surfaces shinier and the women even harder. But will the images still smell like the glossy pages of a fashion mag?
The Jewish Museum London 3 July until 15 September 2013
Many fashion exhibitions are biographical, and many biographical exhibitions rely on clothing to tell part of the tale. Sometimes, fashion is so much a part of a life story that clothes stand in for the subject. Perhaps moreseo when the subject has died tragically and young after being in the spotlight. This is why, for me, the Jewish Museum’s exhibition on the life of Amy Winehouse is as much about her as it is about how clothing represents a life lived, and I’ll be swinging over to Camden Town (also Amy’s favorite part of London) to visit the Jewish Museum for the first time.
The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace 10 May until 6 October 2013
While Kensington Palace is showing us how 20th Century Royal Women came to be fashion icons, Buckingham Palace is opening the Queen’s Gallery to show its been going on for a whole lot longer. While we may hardly need to be reminded, this exhibition affords a rare opportunity to see garments from the Tudor and Stuart periods, alongside paintings of the period. With an accompanying app, and online contenxt including an interview about the influence of Tudor fashion on avant-garde designer Gareth Pugh, the exhibition promises to be more than a reverent look at Royal History.
Opening the Olympics
Museum of London Until 31 October 2013
Seems hard to believe that the London 2012 Olympics were opening a whole year ago this week. The Museum of London’s new display featuring costumes designed for the Olympics and Paralympics opening ceremonies takes a closer look at the craft, concepts and stories behind fragments of the dazzling spectacles.