Victoria and Albert Museum Victoria and Albert Museum © Hufton Crow

Must-see London Fashion Exhibitions

All is set: the fashion crowd has reached Gatwick, hotels are all fully booked, finding a free cab has become impossible, the tube has turned into a player’s nirvana (gorgeous models coming in and out at every stop) and designers are on the verge of insanity. London Fashion Week has officially kicked off.

by Sara Kaufman

A lot of exciting news for this season: Victoria Beckham, after a long sojourn in the New York schedule, is finally taking her show to London, marking the 10th anniversary of her brand. On top of that, industry darling Alexa Chung will also be showing her collection. And of course, the big question is: will the Queen once again grace one of the shows with her presence? If so, we warmly advice Dame Wintour to remove her sunglasses this time before addressing her.

FIM Holly Fulton 02FIM Holly Fulton

While Burberry, House of Holland, Ports, JW Anderson and Mary Katrantzou will be showing their work to a lucky few, all fashion lovers can enjoy the couture-related exhibitions that London – democratically – offers.

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Fashioned from Nature 

The Victoria & Albert museum is hosting “Fashioned from Nature”, a collective show which traces the complex relationship between fashion and the natural world since 1600. From nature musing fashionable dress for the past 400 years, to wildlife and natural elements being turned into fashionable accessories (like the 1875 earrings formed from the heads of two Honeycreeper birds or the 1860s muslin dressed decorated with the iridescent wings of hundreds of beetles), “Fashioned from Nature” also looks back on the reckless exploitation of the environment caused by fashion’s constant demand for raw materials.

earrings birds VA

 

On a more optimistic side, it illustrates the role of design in creating a more sustainable industry. Highlights from the show include Stella McCartney continuous search for sustainable materials and techniques and The Calvin Klein dress worn by Emma Watson at the Met Gala – entirely made of recycled plastic.

emma watson recycled plastic dress

The exhibition is on view until January 27th.

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Frida Kahlo Making Her Self Up 

Still focusing on clothes, but with a more personal and artsy point of view, the V&A is also hosting “Frida Kahlo Making Her Self Up”, sponsored by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland. The exhibition explores the way in which Frida Kahlo – one of the most significant artists of the 20th century – fashioned her identity. By looking at her clothes and possessions, just like if we were peeping in her boudoir, we access the intimate world of Frida, a woman who fought against illness and disability and used her creativity to forge an empowering image of herself.

Frida Kahlo with Olmec figurine 1939. Photograph Nickolas Muray. Nickolas Muray Photo ArchivesFrida Kahlo with Olmec figurine 1939. Photograph Nickolas Muray. Nickolas Muray Photo Archives

Besides styling traditional Mexican costumes in a flattering way which allowed her broken body to feel at its ease, Frida turned her sustaining corsets into artworks by decorating them with colourful drawings and political symbols. She threaded her own necklaces and used painted her lips and nails in matching colours (her own Revlon cosmetics are also on display), highlighting her bold features – yes, eyebrows included! - and drawing the attention from her physical weaknesses to her strong personality. Her signature items are shown together with a selection of photographs and self portraits which also offer a perspective of her times.

Self Portrait Frida Kahlo 1948 c Private CollectionSelf Portrait Frida Kahlo 1948 c Private Collection

The touching exhibition is on show until November 4th. While you are there don’t forget to check out the jaw-dropping fashion archive of the museum.

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Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier

The Design Museum is showcasing “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier”, an exhibition conceived and co-curated with Monsieur Alaïa prior his death, examining the work of one of the most respected designers ever. Known for his endless creativity, his anarchic approach to the fashion system (especially the rigid aspects of seasonality) and, above all, his love for women, the Couturier (as he insisted on being referred to opposed to the ever recurring “designer”) devoted himself to highlighting women’s beauty by creating sculptural clothes which embraced the female body in an exquisite way.

Mark Blower 180509 Alaia Design Museum 0001 EditAlaia Design Museum © Mark Blower

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The Zipped Dress, the Bandage Dress, the Corset Belt… all of Alaïa’s iconic creations have helped to forge fashion history, together with his exceptional relationship with the late Franca Sozzani (editor of Vogue Italia) and with his models and muses (Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista just to name a few). The exhibition – on show until October 7th – displays over 60 garments, focusing on Alaïa ’s interest for foreign cultures, his research on shape and volume, his incredible textile layering and the inspiration he drew from historical costumes.

Mark Blower 180509 Alaia Design Museum 0041 EditAlaia Design Museum © Mark Blower

Whether you have access to the shows or you are likely to get bounced at the entrance, enjoy your fare share of fashion!

 

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