Friday, 23 November 2007

V&A London - Golden Age of Couture

The Victoria and Albert Museum is my favourite museum in London. The V&A South Kensington is the world's greatest museum of art and design, with collections unrivalled in their scope and diversity. It covers everything from ceramics, furniture, fashion, glass, jewellery, metalwork, photographs, sculpture, textiles and paintings. And it's their textiles and fashion exhibitions that have me drooling. Earlier this year I was fortunate to see the Kylie fashion retrospective. Fantastic to see so many of her (tinsy tiny) outfits on display.
The V&A current exhibition is The Golden Age of Couture, Paris and London 1947-1957. I'd give my eye teeth to see this, but sadly don't think I'll manage it. However, lucky me received a beautiful surprise package from a London friend with a postcard book from the exhibition and I've been flicking through it lovingly almost every night since, thank you darling Miss Finn.
The fashion is fabulous. The photography of the fashion is sublime. I think I was born in the wrong era. Just look...
Left, 'Zémire' evening ensemble by Christian Dior, shown without jacket. Vogue (French edition), September 1954. Photograph by Clifford Coffin. Right, Ready-to-wear copy of 'Zémire' by Susan Small, silk satin. Vogue (British edition), November 1954.
Shoes by Roger Vivier for Christian Dior. Pink satin embroidered with metal thread and sequins, Paris about 1958.

And on the topic of shoes, the V&A have a Design a Shoe Competition. Shoes are an integral part of any fashion style, and this was particularly true during 1947-57.
If you are inspired to create you own shoe design then you can submit your design to the V&A where it'll be judged by none other than Professor Jimmy Choo OBE.
If shoes aren't your thing, you can also design a couture inspired dress.

Advertisement for checkerboard patterned velvet and faille by Bianchini Férier, modelled in an evening dress by Dessès. Vogue (French edition), October 1948 and the dress as it stands in the exhibition.Then there is this Miss Lachasse doll from a collection of fashion dolls created for a touring exhibition to raise money for the Greater London Fund for the Blind. She was based on Virginia Woodford, the leading model at the Lachasse couture house in Mayfair. The level of detail in her clothes and accessories is astounding. The V&A say that her wardrobe shows "...the clothes a typical couture client would possess. It includes lingerie, accessories and jewellery, made specially by exclusive London companies such as Asprey. It also has what is thought to be the smallest pair of nylon stockings ever made." Left, photograph of a Coronation collection evening dress by John Cavanagh, with the silk designed by Oliver Messel for Sekers. London, 1953 spring/summer. Right, Photograph by Seeberger of evening dress by Jean Dessès. Paris about 1953.
Dress and petticoat, Pierre Balmain, Paris.

The V&A has many events and courses, so if you live in London take advantage of these extra activities. For those of us not in London, all is not lost. The V&A have a series of three short podcasts about the Golden Age of Couture have been produced to accompany this exhibition. The podcasts feature interviews and insights from those involved in the world of couture.

The Golden Age of Couture
exhibition runs September 22, 2007 - January 6, 2008.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have been twice and still not enough.