March fashion exhibitions

For this month’s must-see fashion exhibitions, head over to Benelux. Game Changers exhibition at Antwerp’s ModeMuseum investigates Cristóbal Balenziaga’s impact on the 20th century silhouette.  Dutch fashion from 1625 to 1960 is highlighted in the exhibition titled Catwalk at Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam created in collaboration Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf. 

 

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Comme des Garçons, Autumn Winter 2012. Photograph by Sophie Delaporte

Game Changers – Reinventing the 20th century silhouette at ModeMuseum (Antwerp)
until August 14

The exhibition Game Changers – Reinventing the 20th century silhouette looks at the groundbreaking work of fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga whose innovations in the middle of the 20th century created a radically new silhouettte, in which the body got freedom of movement and architectural volumes created a space around the body.

Along with the pioneers of haute couture in the 1920s and 1930s and later on also the designers of the 1980s and 1990s, Balenciaga provided an alternative for the prevailing constrictive hourglass silhouette. These ‘Game Changers’ looked at fashion of the 20th century from a new perspective.

Influences from Japan, such as the kimono, liberated women from their tight corsets at the beginning of the 20th century. Fashion designers such as Madeleine Vionnet, Paul Poiret and Coco Chanel shaped this freedom in the 1920s – 1930s with technical innovations and modern ideas about feminity. At the end of the 20th century, the boundaries of the female silhouette are further explored by Japanese and Belgian designers such as Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garçons, Ann Demeulemeester and Martin Margiela. They paved the way for new body shapes and abstract silhouettes and gave a new interpretation of what could be considered as fashion.

The central figure in the exhibition is the Basque fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga  (1895-1972) who is seen as the pivotal figure between the two periods, the architect of innovation. His patterns and work are the central axis of the exhibition. Each of the other designers worked in their own way on similarly innovative ideas and shifted the boundaries of the classic feminine silhouette.

In this way, fashion becomes more than a sequence of trends; fashion is a way to shape the body, space and movement. Rei Kawakubo’s ‘Body meets Dress, Dress Meets Body’ collection of SS 1997 shows how these new shapes have become a part of the fashion vocabulary.

Haute Couture is like an orchestra, whose conductor is Balenciaga. We other couturiers are musicians and we follow the direction he gives.” Christian Dior

The exhibition unites 100 unique couture and ready-to-wear silhouets by Cristóbal Balenciaga, Paul Poiret, Madeleine Vionnet, Gabrielle Chanel, but also Issey Miyake, Ann Demeulemeester, Comme des Garçons, Yohji Yamamoto, Maison Martin Margiela. With loans from prestigious collections of the museum of Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, the V&A, MUDE Lisbon and Musée Galliera.


 

Erwin Olaf | Model: Ymre Stiekema | Wedding dress (1759)

Catwalk at Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam)
until May 16

From February 20 through May 16 2016, six galleries of the Philips Wing will be dedicated to fashion of the Dutch from 1625 to 1960. Starting with garments worn by members of the Frisian branch of the house of Nassau in the Golden Age, the exhibits will feature vibrantly coloured French silk gowns and luxurious velvet gentlemen’s suits of the eighteenth century, classically-inspired Empire dresses and bustles of the Fin de Siècle culminating in twentieth-century French haute couture by Dior and Yves Saint Laurent.

Rijksmuseum Curator of Costumes Bianca du Mortier explains, “The garments presented in this exhibition reflect the stories of the people who wore them. In fashion, the choices of the wearer count – they make him or her a trendsetter or a follower. Even today the clothes of the very rich and powerful always convey a conscious or unconscious message. In that respect, nothing has changed over the last 330 years. These choices are restricted by such factors as budget, opportunity, age, social status, climate, personal likes and dislikes and so forth. And when presented in a museum, there is a final selection: the selection of the Rijksmuseum.” The exhibition is being designed by world-renowned Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf.

According to Erwin Olaf, “The challenge and honour of designing this exhibition, Catwalk, for the most extraordinary museum in the Netherlands came at exactly the right moment for me. For several years now I’ve been exploring alternative ways to present my photographic work and to integrate it in installations, sound, video and films as means to immerse viewers in a world that fires and challenges their personal imaginations and, ultimately, sparks a stimulating dialogue between the viewer and the work on view.”


 

Flying Saucer, SS94 and No.10 Skirt, 2010

Flying Saucer, SS94 and No.10 Skirt, 2010

MIYAKE ISSEY EXHIBITION: The Work of Miyake Issey at the National Art Center (Tokyo)
until June 13

An exhibition devoted to designer Issey Miyake will run from Wednesday, March 16 to Monday, June 13, 2016 at the National Art Center, Tokyo. The Center has considered design to be an important exhibition theme since it opened in 2007 and is devoted to presenting a wide range of artistic expressions and proposing new perspectives. This exhibition, MIYAKE ISSEY EXHIBITION: The Work of Miyake Issey, promises to be an unprecedented event, focusing on the entirety of Miyake’s 45-year career, from 1970 to the present.

Miyake has consistently presented new methodologies and possibilities for making clothes, while always focusing on the future. It all began in 1960 when Miyake, a student at Tama Art University, sent a letter to the World Design Conference, which was being held for the first time in Japan that year. The letter took issue with the fact that clothing design was not included in the event. At that point, Miyake’s notion that clothing is not merely “fashion” ― i.e., something that changes with the times ― but a form of design that is closely connected to our lives on a much more universal level was already apparent. Miyake has always explored the relationship between a piece of cloth and the body, and the space that is created as a result, unrestricted by any existing framework. In addition, along with his team of designers, he persistently undertakes research and development to create clothing that combines both innovation and comfort.

This exhibition will shed light on Miyake’s ideas about making things and his approach to design by examining his entire career, from his earliest work to his latest projects, and his explorations of greater creative possibilities in the future. This exhibition will provide viewers with an opportunity to expand the boundaries of their thought and stimulate their creativity, allowing everyone, young and old alike, to experience the joy of creation.


 

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Rebirth of Venus 2009 by David LaChapelle

Botticelli Reimagined at V&A (London)
until July 3

Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) is recognised as one of the greatest artists of all time. His celebrated images are firmly embedded in public consciousness and his influence permeates art, design, fashion and film. However, although lauded in his lifetime, Botticelli was largely forgotten for more than 300 years until his work was progressively rediscovered in the 19th century.

Telling a story 500 years in the making, Botticelli Reimagined will be the largest Botticelli exhibition in Britain since 1930. Including painting, fashion, film, drawing, photography, tapestry, sculpture and print, the exhibition will explore the ways that artists and designers have reinterpreted Botticelli. It will include over 50 original works by Botticelli, alongside works by artists such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris, René Magritte, Elsa Schiaparelli, Andy Warhol and Cindy Sherman.

 

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