Fashioning Winter at Somerset House


If you find yourself at Somerset House over the festive period, stop for a moment to have a look at an interesting series of small displays that draw attention to the relationship between fashion, winter and leisure pursuits in a subtle but poetic manner.

Fashioning Winter, an exhibition created by nine curators, offers a poignant backdrop to Somerset House’s annual ice rink experience.  As you discover the various displays, made up of inventive interventions in and around Somerset House, you are reminded that London is not only a fashionable capital but also a city that celebrates winter pastimes.

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‘Skating is Streatham’ by Beatrice Behlen

This is particularly well achieved by Beatrice Behlen’s display highlighting the craze for ice skating during the interwar period in London with ghostly photographs of art deco indoor ice rinks and a pair of ice skates worn by a regular skater from the 1930s.


‘Skating on Film’ by Caroline Evans

Caroline Evans’ display of silent ice skating films from the early 20th century are mesmerising and perhaps the closest thing we might get to of a re-enactment of London’s 17th century frost fairs on the river Thames.

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‘White Perspectives’ by Sofia Hedman and Serge Martynov

The display ‘White Perspectives’, curated by Sofia Hedman and Serge Martynov fills an entire staircase with objects illustrating the way in which the colour white has historically informed fashion.  I particularly loved a fascinating video about the work of designer Iris Van Herpen who uses white 3D printing to create her fashion designs.


‘Winter Mode’ by Rebecca Arnold

Another staircase is adorned with homemade Christmas cards by photographer Angus McBean.  This display, curated by Alistair O’Neill, nicely captures the festive spirit.  Yet, it is Rebecca Arnold’s display on how fashion has informed our need to dress warmly in the winter months that for me best encapsulates the exhibition’s main title.

Fashioning Winter is a free exhibition at Somerset House until 11 January 2015 and you can download the exhibition guide here.  I would also recommend Furzsi’s post about the exhibition on the Courtauld’s Documenting Fashion blog.


First image credit is to Professor Amy De La Haye who provided the image for the London College of Fashion website.  It can be found here [Accessed 15 December 2014]


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