As the days get shorter here in London, I feel even more inclined than usual to spend long hours at museums. Fortunately, this summer’s generous offering of fashion and textile-related exhibitions continues into the winter months. Here’s a brief round-up of the ones that are sure to cure my summer-ending blues.
The Glamour of Bellville Sassoon
Fashion and Textile Museum September 20, 2013 – January 11, 2014
This exhibition surveys the work and influence of British couturiers Belinda Bellville and David Sassoon, who dressed many of the world’s most stylish women, including Diana Princess of Wales. The exhibition traces the heritage of the house from its roots in the couture houses of Post-War Britain, to its celebrity clients, and the mass marketing of British glamour via their ready-to-wear and Vogue patterns collections.
Victoria & Albert Museum September 21, 2013 – January 22, 2014
Pearls are a wonder of nature, and a coveted item of luxury that has mystified and enthralled human beings across cultures and centuries. The V&A’s blockbuster exhibition promises to give us a total biography of the pearl – from trade and cultivation, to mythology, jewellery and its portrayal in portraiture. Surely the exhibition will inspire jewellery designers and fashionistas to dig out a few strands and rekindle a love affair with these rare and versatile jewels of the sea.
Coco Chanel: A New Portrait by Marion Pike 1967-1971
Fashion Space Gallery September 5, 2013 – November 15, 2013
Sometimes it seems as though Coco Chanel is everywhere. Whether in spirit, logo, or one of countless biographies of the designer, it’s hard to turn a corner without spying a reference to her legacy. However, it is rare that we gain an insight into her more private life that feels authentic and unadorned by drama. Fortunately, a rather dramatic re-discovery of paintings by French artist Marion Pike, rewards us with an intimate look at Coco Chanel’s later years through the lens of a unique friendship. The exhibition displays a series of paintings of Chanel by Pike, as well as other of her works, garments gifted to Pike by Chanel and a wealth of material related to the correspondence and friendship of the two women. It’s a small and wondrous display, that holds above all the promise that just when we think we have seen it all, there is surely still another story to be told.
ICA Off-Site: A Journey Through London Subculture 1980s to Now
Old Selfridge’s Hotel September 13, 2013 – October 20, 2013
Like Coco Chanel, 1980s subcultures and fashions get their fair share of attention in fashion media, and more recently in museums. However, the Institute of Contemporary Art’s new offsite exhibition promises to give a subjective and transformative view on a myriad of subcultural tendencies of the last three decades. A series of installations, images and other material from the period seek to investigate the relationship between sub, popular and commercial cultures and to illuminate the links between creative practitioners across the turn of the 21st century.
This autumn’s exhibition outlook is diverse and this calendar just a small peek at what’s going on in London this autumn. As usual, each of the exhibitions profiled here is accompanied by a programme of related events both purely academic or rather more social. I’ll be catching as many of them as I can, and also be looking ahead to what will be filling up my favourite museums and galleries at the beginning of the new year.