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The must-see fashion exhibitions of 2018

From Azzedine Alaïa to Dior, we round up the key exhibitions to catch

Dresses at the Gianni Versace Retrospective exhibition in Berlin. Getty
Dresses at the Gianni Versace Retrospective exhibition in Berlin. Getty

From a Gianni Versace retrospective to a showcase of clothing belonging to royalty, here are some key exhibitions to catch this year.

Gianni Versace Retrospective

Until April 13, Kronprinzenpalais, Berlin

“Gianni Versace loves Berlin,” claims the Kronprinzenpalais, a palace-turned-exhibition centre in Berlin, which is currently playing host to a retrospective of the late designer’s work. It’s true that Versace had strong links to Germany — his first fashion show was presented in the tiny city of Lippstadt in 1978. Given that 2017 marked the 20th anniversary of Gianni’s death, it was expected that the designer’s oeuvre would receive a lot of attention last year, but it’s encouraging to see that continuing into 2018. Put together with input from friends and relatives, the Gianni Versace Retrospective features pieces brought to Berlin by private collectors from around the world, and worn by the likes of Prince, Madonna, Elton John and Naomi Campbell. A celebration of his flamboyant, disruptive, unashamedly sensual aesthetic, this is being pitted as the largest exhibition yet of original pieces by Gianni Versace. There’s even a reproduction of the bedroom from his Miami home here, to fully highlight his personal sense of style.

Royal Women

Until April 28, Bath

Granted, it’s a little niche, and you might not find yourself in the quaint British city of Bath anytime soon — but we’re intrigued by an exhibition currently under way in its Fashion Museum. Entitled Royal Women, it looks at the clothing worn by successive generations of women in the British Royal family — Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret. Looking at how the roles of these women influenced their sartorial choices, highlights of the exhibition include the wedding dress of Alexandra, Princess of Wales, dating back to 1863, which is on loan from the Royal Collection. Also on display is an ensemble of gold and pale green velvet, worn by Queen Mary to the wedding of her granddaughter, Princess Elizabeth; and a dove grey ball gown from 1954 ­belonging to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

Margiela / Galliera 1989-2009

March 3 to July 15, Palais Galliera, Paris

Shoes designed by Martin Margiela. Getty
Shoes designed by Martin Margiela. Getty

You may not know who Martin Margiela is, and you almost certainly won’t know what he looks like — and that’s kind of the point. The Belgian founder of Maison Martin Margiela was notoriously private; he very rarely gave interviews and remained hidden backstage after his runway shows. Nonetheless, he had an incredible impact on the clothes we wear. As part of the so-called Antwerp Six, he revolted against mainstream fashion, presenting garments that were deconstructed, oversized and upcycled, with linings, seams and hems set on the outside. The first real retrospective of the Belgian fashion designer’s work will be held at the Palais Galliera, and will look at Margiela’s output between spring/summer 1989 and spring/summer 2009. It will feature more than 130 designs, as well as video footage and items from the archives.

Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier

May 10 to October 7, The Design Museum, London

This exhibit had already been in the works when the legendary fashion designer passed away unexpectedly in November, so he was heavily involved in its planning. It will explore the career and creative process of this notorious perfectionist who cut all his own patterns and was known to work on a single garment for years before sharing it with the world. It will showcase more than 60 examples of Alaïa’s work from the past 35 years, which were selected by the man himself, along with guest curator Mark Wilson, who is the chief curator of the Groninger Museum.

Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up

June 16 to November 4, V&A Museum, London

A collection of personal artefacts and clothing will offer a new perspective on the life of famed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, as part of an exhibition at London’s V&A. Locked away for 50 years following Kahlo’s death, this is the first time the items will be shown outside of Mexico. Details about the event are still under wraps, but we expect it will be as extraordinary as the woman herself.

Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Colour

September 7 to January 5, 2019, The Museum at FIT, New York City

The Museum at FIT in New York is putting together an exhibition that will challenge perceptions of this purportedly girlie hue. Entitled Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color, the exhibition will run from September 7 until January 5, 2019. As the exhibition will show, the “pink is for girls and blue is for boys” stereotype only really gained traction in the mid-20th century. In the 18th century, when Madame de Pompadour helped make pink fashionable at the French court, it was just as acceptable for a man to wear a pink suit as it was for a woman to wear a pink dress. And in cultures such as India, men never stopped wearing pink. Curated by Valerie Steele, director of The Museum at FIT, the exhibit will look back over three centuries and show how the “symbolism and significance” of the colour have varied greatly over that period.

Dior: From Paris to the World

November 18 to March 3, 2019, Denver Art Museum, Colorado

A Dior handbag. Courtesy Dior
A Dior handbag. Courtesy Dior

Dior will head Stateside later this year, for the first major American retrospective of the 70-year-old French brand’s creations. The Denver Art Museum will present Dior: From Paris to the World, which will feature 150 couture dresses, accessories, photographs, drawings, runway videos and other material from the archives. The chronological exhibit will present pivotal moments in the house’s history, and insight into Christian Dior’s own mindset and aesthetic. It will also highlight how his successors, Yves-Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri, have contributed to the Dior legacy.


Read more:

The delicate art of cultural appropriation in design

V&A exhibition demonstrates how fashion and nature influence one another

Fashion year in review: The stand-out moments of 2017


Updated: February 11, 2018 06:12 PM



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