Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Fashion Exhibition Highlights at the V&A, London

Earlier this year I went to the Fashion museum in Bath and was quite disappointed, as their collection (though impressive and laid out in a fun way with corsets and crinolines to try on!) tended to be pre-1910 or post-1960. I was therefore delighted that at the V&A in London they have a really super collection, with lots of items from my favourite decades (the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, and maybe a tad of the 1920s).

Although allowed to take photographs, the lighting was very dim (no doubt to protect the fabric) so please excuse the less than great quality of my photos. I hope they might be useful reference points anyway to those who, like myself, don't live in London and can't get to the museum easily.

Here's a little photographic guide to some of the highlights, by decade.

The 1920s
Evening dress and jacket, Mariano Fortuny, 1920: thought this was an interesting reference point for how radically things were going to change in just 10 years.

Evening shoe, Lilley & Skinner Ltd, 1925: adorable, just adorable! If you stuck a teeny platform on the front and rounded the toe a bit more you could see it on the shelves in Office.

The 1930s
Evening dress, Jean Patou, 1932-34: It's clear to see where some of the 1980's Dynasty-style wave got it's inspiration from - look at that belt , the asymmetry, and the glitz of that fabric.

Suede shoe, Salvatore Ferragamo, 1930-35: Now, I'm pretty sure I've seen these very shoes on an actress in a black and white film. If anyone knows which one, please let me know!
Parisian evening dress, Madeleine Vionnet, 1933: Yes, look twice - those are slits above the breasts, sort of following the line of where a halter-neck would be. Just two little glimpses of flesh in a figure otherwise draped in silk-satin makes it one sexy dress.

The 1940s

Utility dress, Norman Hartnell, 1942-45: Notice how this design was creeping closer to a '50s shirtwaister style.

The 1950s

Jewelled evening shoe, Christian Dior, 1952-54: Not to my taste, I have to say.

New York evening dress, Claire McCardell, 1955: This was a very interesting piece - an evening dress made out of a striped wool fabric, something I didn't expect at all from the 1950s, I could see this in a brocade or lace but the wool was a surprise!

Evening dress, Jacques Heim, 1959: Just the most perfect party dress.

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