met-heavenlybodies-mag-heroa.jpg

First Look: 3 Must-See Fashion Exhibitions this Spring

Heavenly Bodies at the Met

“There are distinct parallels between a fashion show and a church procession,” explains Andrew Bolton, head curator of The Met’s Anna Wintour Costume Center in New York. He is discussing Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, an exhibition exploring the costumes, art and architecture of the Roman Catholic Church, and their impact on high fashion. Forty papal vestments and accessories, dating from the 18th to the 21st centuries, have been loaned by the Sistine Chapel. “Several of the pieces have never been seen outside the Vatican,” says Bolton. 

heavenlybodies-met-mag-body1.jpg
WEDDING ENSEMBLE BY DOMENICO DOLCE AND STEFANO GABBANA FOR DOLCE & GABBANA’S SPRING/SUMMER 2013 ALTA MODA SHOW. COURTESY DOLCE & GABBANA. IMAGE COURTESY THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, DIGITAL COMPOSITE SCAN BY KATERINA JEBB.

Conceived as a kind of pilgrimage, the show begins with silhouettes influenced by Byzantine art and architecture. Among them are collections created by Gianni Versace in the 1990s, “inspired by the glittering micro-mosaics of the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna,” according to Bolton. Designs from Cristóbal Balenciaga to Jean-Paul Gaultier feature in displays that evoke the dress of different Catholic orders, saints and angels, as well as the cult of the Virgin Mary.

“Balenciaga was raised Catholic, as were most of the designers who are featured in the exhibition,” says Bolton. “On the surface, this influence is conveyed through explicit Catholic imagery and symbolism. On a deeper level, it is conveyed through their reliance on storytelling, specifically the trope of metaphor.”  

Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 10 May–8 October.

 

Azzedine Alaïa at the Design Museum

Tunisia-born Azzedine Alaïa’s sexy and attention-grabbing early creations in lace and studded leather made him a fashion-world favourite in the early 1980s. Conceived and curated with the designer before his death in late 2017, this career-length tribute at London’s Design Museum features more than 60 of his garments. 

heavenly-bodies-fashion-exhibitions-mag-access-body3.jpg
AZZEDINE ALAÏA DRESS, 1990. COURTESY AZZEDINE ALAÏA.

“Alaïa had strong friendships with practitioners working in other creative disciplines, especially designers,” explains curator Gemma Curtin. “So we were inspired to present his work against a backdrop of newly commissioned screens by designers such as Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec and Tatiana Trouvé, and to enjoy  the visual conversations of these placements.”

Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier, Design Museum, London, 10 May–7 October.

 

The Beauty of Nature at the Victoria & Albert Museum

The complexity of fashion’s relationship with the natural world is explored at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum in an exhibition drawing on five decades of costume history. The beauty of nature has furnished endless inspiration, from floral embroidery to the decorative use of fur, feathers, shells and butterfly wings. 

heavenly-bodies-fashion-access-body2.jpg
EARRINGS MADE FROM THE HEADS OF RED-LEGGED HONEYCREEPER BIRDS, CIRCA 1875. © VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM, LONDON.

In recent decades, the extent to which fashion contributes to global pollution has become evident, but might the natural world itself hold the key to new, less damaging solutions? Fashioned from Nature looks at the potential of new materials such as leather derived from grape waste and fibre from the citrus industry. “Technological innovation forms a thread in the exhibition narrative,” explains curator Edwina Ehrman, “from the development of spun-glass fibre as an alternative to silk in the 19th century to contemporary research into biofabricated fibres.” 

Fashioned from Nature, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 21 April–27 January 2019.  

 

Featured Content

We use our own and third party cookies to enable you to navigate around our Site, use its features and engage on social media, and to allow us to perform analytics, remember your preferences, provide services that you have requested and produce content and advertisements tailored to your interests, both on our Site as well as others. For more information, or to learn how to change your cookie or marketing preferences, please see our updated Privacy Policy & Cookie Policy.

By continuing to use our Site, you consent to our use of cookies and to the practices described in our updated Privacy Policy.

Close