April fashion exhibitions

The fashion exhibitions opening this April feel all-encompassing. The most innovative display is up at Fashion Museum Hasselt in Belgium, where the relationship between haute couture and prêt-à-porter in contemporary fashion is explored. V&A in London,  The Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and LACMA in Los Angeles in turn, investigate fashion from a more traditional linear perspective with the focus on basic fashion categories such as underwear, womenswear and menswear. 


Portrait of the curator Filep Motwary with Ola Rudnicka wearing Dries Van Noten SS2016, Photography René Habermach. Source: Modemuseum Hasselt

Portrait of the curator Filep Motwary with Ola Rudnicka wearing Dries Van Noten SS2016, Photography René Habermach. Source: Modemuseum Hasselt

Haute-à-Porter at Fashion Museum Hasselt (Hasselt, Belgium)
until September 11

Haute couture is synonymous with craftsmanship, luxury, extravagance and spectacle. But aren’t these typical features of contemporary prêt-à-porter? Curated by the internationally acclaimed costume designer, journalist and photographer Filep Motwary, Haute-à-Porter examines this question further and researches the changing relationship and cross-fertilisation between haute couture and ready to wear.

Through a variety of themes and a selection of spectacular silhouettes and accessories from high end designers and fashion houses, the exhibition highlights the significance of haute couture for contemporary fashion. Completed with photography, film, art and music, Haute-à-Porter offers a unique insight into the fashion industry of the last 30 years.


Brixton Boyz, Jennie Baptiste, 2001. Museum no. E.971-2010. Source: Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear at V&A (London)
until March 12, 2017

This exhibition tells the story of underwear design from the 18th century to the present day. It explores the intimate relationship between underwear and fashion and its role in moulding the body to a fashionable ideal. Underwear is sometimes controversial, sparking debates about health and hygiene, body image and stereotyping. Its cut, fit, fabric and decoration reflect changing attitudes to gender, sex and morality; shifting notions of public and private; and innovations in fabric technology and design.

Underclothes have also influenced outer wear. Nightwear has morphed into lounge wear and garments such as corsets, crinolines and slips have been recast by fashion designers to challenge convention and explore the dynamic relationship between body and clothing.

This fascinating and thought provoking story is told through over 200 objects. Garments designed for men and women are displayed alongside advertising material, fashion plates, photographs and films to bring new insights into the most personal garments in our wardrobe.


Hussein Chalayan, dress, spring-summer 2000. Source: Les Arts Décoratifs, Jean Tholance

Fashion Forward, 3 Centuries of Fashion (1715-2016) at The Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Paris)
until August 14

The Musée des Arts Décoratifs is celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of its fashion collection. In doing so they are responding to their public’s strongly expressed desire to at last be shown an all-embracing panorama of fashion history over several centuries. It will also be a unique opportunity to showcase the jewels and highlight the particularities of a national fashion and textiles collection curated in full dialogue with the other departments of a museum dedicated to all the decorative arts. The Fashion Forward, 3 Centuries of Fashion (1715-2016) exhibition will bring together 300 items of men’s, women’s and children’s fashion from the 18th century to today, selected from the museum’s collections to provide a novel chronological overview.

In a completely novel manner, the exhibition recreates ‘fashion moments’ in their human, artistic and social context, not didactically but via ellipses illustrating fashion’s constant elective affinities with the decorative arts. Eighteenth-century wood paneling, scenic wallpapers by Zuber, Paul Iribe’s drawings for the ‘Robes de Paul Poiret’, and the straw marquetry doors created by Jean-Michel Frank for the writer François Mauriac, provide perfect settings for fashion’s stylistic expressions and the metamorphoses of the body and style from the 18th century. The exhibition culminates in the effervescence and singular eclecticism of the global contemporary fashion scene, in which the names of the most original creators are now associated with the most ancient fashion houses.


Jeremy Scott x Adidas spring '13 collection boots featured in LACMA's "Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear" exhibit. Source: LACMA.

Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715–2015 at LACMA (Los Angeles)
Until August 21

Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715–2015 explores the history of men’s fashionable dress from the eighteenth century to the present and re-examines the all-too-frequent equation of “fashion” with “femininity.”  Beginning with the 18th century, the male aristocrat wore a three-piece suit conspicuous in make and style, and equally as lavish as the opulent dress of his female counterpart. The 19th-century “dandy” made famous a more refined brand of expensive elegance which became the hallmark of Savile Row. The mid-twentieth-century “mod” relished in the colorful and modern styles of Carnaby Street, and the 21st century man—in an ultra-chic “skinny suit” by day and a flowered tuxedo by night—redefines today’s concept of masculinity. Drawing primarily from LACMA’s renowned collection, Reigning Men makes illuminating connections between history and high fashion. The exhibition traces cultural influences over the centuries, examines how elements of the uniform have profoundly shaped fashionable dress, and reveals how cinching and padding the body was, and is, not exclusive to women. The exhibition features 200 looks, and celebrates a rich history of restraint and resplendence in menswear.


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