Victoria and Albert Museum fashion exhibition

Posted on: 23/10/2009

by Esther Privett

In the words of Coco Chanel, “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” The Victoria and Albert Museum fashion exhibition, as well as being free, is both of these things.

From when you enter and see Phoebe Philo’s pink chiffon dress for Chloe until when you leave in awe of the smiling Twiggy who beams down at you from her Cecil Beaton photograph. Even for a fashion phobic there is something to mesmerise you. Whether it is the impracticalities of a Georgian shoe or the obscure question of whether anyone could possibly need 20 bras fig 1.Fig 1

The V&A is situated in South Kensington, accessed on the Piccadilly line, and open from 10am. You enter between pearly marble statues of ladies lolling majestically and then are engulfed by yards of silk gilded with chiffon, bewitched by ivory organza flowers which adorn the wedding clothes of the fashionable elite.

Also captivating is the obvious evolution of trends. They move through eras as undercurrents and emerge to the surface with renewed gusto. With a bit of rejuvenating, our ancestors’ clothes become haute couture. In 1890 Sara Mayer and A Morhanger produced an ivory silk dress overlaid with chiffon and black lace fig 2.

The dramatic effect is “soSara Mayer, fig 2ftened by the delicacy of the lace” but the drama reappears with the Parisian Paul Poiret’s dress produced in 1924. La Flute is a drop waist dress, a style synonymous with fashion of the time, which echoes the black and white of Mayer and Morhanger’s frock.  Over seven decades later Karl Lagerfeld produced a suit for Chanel which again mimics the black and white theme that materialized so many years ago.

Though only a small exhibition, the chosen pieces allow you to see progression of style and manufacture. Vivienne Westwood’s evening gown in deep emerald and regal lilac shot silk is reflective of dresses of the 18th Century. Though the a-symmetrical sleeve brings it into the modern day the billowing fabrics and sculpted bodice assert its history.


Unfortunately, it is not always convenient to journey up to London. If you are tempted by Givenchy and swathes of silken fabric, but are unable to travel by train for an hour, then do not despair. To view any of the designs mentioned simply got to and type in the name of the designer.


2 Responses to "Victoria and Albert Museum fashion exhibition"

Ohhh, i’m definitely going to go to the V&A! What a charming article, I look forward to your article next time. You have your first mesmorised fan!

I was as captivated by the gusto of this article as by the exhibit itself. The lively prose brings alive the continuing impact of fashion through the ages. Thank you, Ms Privett

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Latest Comments

%d bloggers like this: