A Postcard from Abroad: UK Endeavours

Six months ago, I started to write for Worn Through as a regular UK contributor and over that period I hoped to not only review London exhibitions and events but also interview people and get out beyond the capital to capture dress and fashion studies further afield.  On reflection, while I think I have achieved the former, the latter has proved more challenging, particularly when teaching full-time in the spring semester.  However, I am excited to say that I will soon share my first interview, featuring Jasleen Kandhari, a textile and art historian specialising in Asian textiles.  So, although it’s taken half a year, I am beginning to fulfil more of my initial brief!

To mark this six month occasion,  I want to highlight a few interesting exhibitions across the country as well as those taking place in my hometown this summer.  It’s nice to be able to stop and take the long view half way through the year before moving forward again.  And I was very inspired by Brenna’s Domestic Affairs posts that provide a brilliant round up of American exhibitions and events.

In commemorating this year’s centenary of the First World War, both the Bowes Museum in Durham and Chertsey Museum in Surrey have displays focusing on clothing and fashion from the era until the end of August.  Interestingly, Bowes Museum have chosen to work with BA Hons Fashion Design and Marketing Programme students from Northumbria University to create an exhibition that not only features clothes worn during the period but also contemporary designs inspired by the times.  I think this is an interesting idea because often historical events can seem very remote to a young audience but by embodying history into clothing design, it is possible to learn about and, perhaps more importantly, empathise with the past.

Opening on 1st August, the fascinating exhibition Eye of the Needle at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford tells the story of  17th century embrodieries through the context of women and girls’ social roles and responsibilities.  Guest curated by Dr Mary Brooks, the exhibition features pieces from the Feller Collection, of which many have never been publicly displayed before.  The exhibition runs until the beginning of October.

Back here in London, there is much to choose from with Return of the Rudeboy at Somerset House, Made in Mexico: The Rebozo at the Fashion and Textile Museum, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk at the Barbican and The Glamour of Italian Fashion at the V&A 1945- 2014, all open until August.  In addition, Kensington Museum has a new permanent display, which focuses on how everyday fashions have influenced the dress of members of the Royal Family.  Fashion Rules is on display until summer 2015.

I am impressed by the diversity of approach to dress and fashion studies across these exhibitions – it’s good to see only one focused upon a specific designer!  I am hoping to get to as many as I can over the teaching break.  It would be great to hear your recommendations or experiences of other exhibitions and events taking place this summer in the UK  – just add to the comments below!

Top image: Interior view from Return of the Rudeboy at Somerset House, June 2014.

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