March fashion exhibitions

Juxtapositions and bodies are the central themes running through all the fashion exhibitions opening this month. Fashion designer JW Anderson has curated an exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield that combines sculpture and fashion as a way to examine human form. The same approach has been employed at the Musée Bourdelle where Cristóbal Balenciaga’s work is on display. Artists Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun work has been placed in dialogue at the National Portrait Gallery in London to highlight their interest in gender and performance.



The Thinly (2015) by Jamie Hawkesworth

Disobedient Bodies: JW Anderson Curates The Hepworth Wakefield at The Hepworth Wakefield (UK)
until June 18, 2017

The Hepworth Wakefield presents a major exhibition with Jonathan Anderson, one of the world’s most innovative contemporary fashion designers, exploring the human form in art, fashion and design. A personal selection of sculptures will be on display, alongside notable fashion pieces and objects of craft and design, investigating the way the human form has been reconceived by artists and designers across the 20th and 21st centuries.

The selection is shaped by Anderson’s long-standing passion for modern art (from the mid-20th century) and the underlying questions of gender that have been posed by his own fashion collections at JW Anderson. Figurative sculptures by artists including Jean Arp, Louise Bourgeois, Lynn Chadwick, Naum Gabo, Barbara Hepworth, Sarah Lucas, Henry Moore, Magali Reus and Dorothea Tanning will be brought into direct dialogue with fashion pieces by designers such as Christian Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, Rei Kawakubo of Commes des Garçons, Helmut Lang and Issey Miyake.


Balenciaga gazar dress, 1963

Balenciaga gazer dress (1963)

Balenciaga, L’oeuvre Au Noir at the Musée Bourrelée (Paris)
until July 16, 2017

The Palais Galliera pays a tribute to Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895 – 1972), the most “Couture” of Couturiers, with an exhibition at the Musée Bourdelle entitled Balenciaga, l’oeuvre au noir. The exhibition resounds with a black harmony of a Haute Couture alchemist. Black motivated Balenciaga: the backbone of his work was inspired by the folklore and traditions of his Spanish childhood. Black was this exceptionally skilled tailor’s preference. Black was a monastic influence on the master, about whom Dior once said: “Clothes were his religion”.

Balenciaga saw black as a vibrant matter whether it be opaque or transparent, matt or shiny – a dazzling interplay of light, that owes as much to the luxurious quality of the fabrics as to the apparent simplicity of the cut. A lace highlight, embroidery, guipure, a heavy drape of silk velvet and, hey presto, you have a skirt, a bolero, a mantilla, a cape reinvented as a coat, a coat tailored as a cape… …Every piece is magnificent, from day clothes to cocktail dresses and sumptuous evening outfits lined in silk taffeta, edged with fringes, decorated with satin ribbons, jet beads, sequins… more than hundred couture variations of black are the treasures of the Galliera collections and the Maison Balenciaga’s archives.


I am in training don't kiss me by Claude Cahun (c. 1927)

I am in training don’t kiss me (c. 1927) by Claude Cahun

Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the Mask, Another Mask at the National Portrait Gallery (London)

until May 29, 2017

This exhibition brings together for the first time the work of French artist Claude Cahun and British contemporary artist Gillian Wearing. Although they were born almost seventy years apart and came from different backgrounds, remarkable parallels can be drawn between the two artists. Both of them share a fascination with the self-portrait and use the self-image, through the medium of photography, to explore themes around identity and gender, which is often played out through masquerade and performance.

Me as Cahun holding a mask of my face by Gillian Wearing (2012)


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