Top 5 Fashion Exhibits to see in 2019
There is no question that 2018 has given us a stand-out year of sensational fashion exhibitions. From The Heavenly Bodies exhibit at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Repair & Design Futures exhibit at Rhode Island School of Design and many more, this year’s exhibits have brought insight and inspiration to the fashion and art community. So, what does next year have in store? With 2019 fast approaching, we have the beat on the next wave of fashion exhibits to mark on your calendar.
Images clockwise from top left: Dior and model 1956 via S. magazine | Virgil Abloh via the MET | Mary Quant fabric via Pinterest | Vivienne Westwood menswear SS2018 via Vogue | center and lower left image are Mary Quant via V&A Museum
1. Victoria and Albert Museum - Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams (2 February - 14 July 2019)
This exhibit had been shown recently at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris this year, and is travelling to the UK in what will be the largest and most comprehensive exhibition ever staged in there on this esteemed design house. The V&A museum will open to the public the collective work of the House of Dior in February 2019, and the show traces the brand's history from the impact of its namesake couturier to his successors and present-day influence. The exhibit will display over 200 garments alongside personal possessions, accessories, magazines, photography, and more. It will be the museum’s largest exhibition since their 2015 show of Alexander McQueen: Savage in Beauty. The V&A will also feature a unique facet to this exhibit, by showcasing a new section which will explore Christian Dior’s personal relationship with Britain.
2. Museum of Fine Arts Boston - Gender Bending Fashion (21 March - 25 August 2019)
With runways, designers, and advocates upending genderfied clothing, this exhibit looks to challenge binary definitions of gender and celebrate creators who are pushing the boundaries of fashion. Featuring more than sixty garments alongside individual narratives and pieces worn by famous influencers such as Marlene Dietrich, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, and Young Thug, this exhibit looks to dismantle labels that society has forced us to accept. This show features the work of contemporary designers such as Rad Hourani, Jean Paul Gaultier, Alessandro Michele for Gucci, Palomo, and Rei Kawakubo. These pioneers for change take their work into historical context of trends like the garçonne look of the 1920s and the peacock revolution of the 1960s. With the versatile and ever changing conversation of fashion, this exhibit hopes shed light on societal shifts over the past century.
3. Victoria and Albert Museum - Mary Quant (6 April - 16 February 2020)
Not only is the V&A museum opening its doors to Dior, but the museum will also display an eleven-month exhibition of fashion icon Mary Quant. Quant was a pioneer in revolutionizing women's fashion during the 1960s and 70s, and this exhibition will feature more than two hundred garments, ranging from one-off designs sold at Quant's boutiques to pieces never displayed to the public before. The exhibit, curated by V&A’s Jenny Lister, bolstered its collection for the show by issuing a public appeal this past June inviting anyone to submit clothes and photos of Quant’s work to add to the museums archives. The exhibition will focus on the years between 1955 and 1975, when Quant’s name became synonymous with the era defining miniskirts and vibrant looks. For those looking to see more of her influence on revolutionizing womenswear, the Fashion and Textile Museum will also be displaying more of her pieces alongside those of other influential designers in an exhibit looking at at the transformative time of the 1960s. Their ‘Swinging London’ exhibition is up from 8 February - 2 June 2019, so you can see both exhibits back to back!
4. The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Camp: Notes on Fashion (9 May - 8 September 2019)
One of fashion’s most anticipated shows globally, the annual fashion exhibit at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art has become a major influence on fashion trends. For 2019, the MET has decided that its spring exhibition will showcase the ostentatious and humorous aesthetic of “camp” - a take on the name of American writer Susan Sontag’s essay “Notes on ‘Camp’” written in 1964. The show will be unveiled May 6th at the annual Met Gala and will examine this cultural trope and how its aesthetic evolved from a place of marginality to one where its influence has been adopted into mainstream culture.
Featuring approximately 175 objects from menswear and womenswear to artwork dating from the 17th century to the present, the show will trace the evolution of “camp” from the royal courts of Louis XIV and Louis XV in Versailles to the subcultures of Europe and America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and beyond. This year's exhibit is sponsored by Italian fashion house Gucci and media group Condé Nast, and is sure to make a great addition into the cultural narrative of fashion trends.
One of the pieces in the show is the ensemble pictured below by designer Virgil Abloh. If you are a fan of his work, make sure to keep reading to the very end of our post! *
5. National Museum of Scotland - Body Beautiful: Diversity on the Catwalk (23 May - 20 October 2019)
It is no new trend that museum exhibits are reflective of what is going on in the collective consciousness of society and serve as a sounding board to push ideas and concepts further. The National Museum of Scotland has taken a stand that the conversation of body inclusivity and diversity needs to keep going within fashion and beyond. For their exhibit opening in May 2019, Georgina Ripley, the museum's senior curator of modern and contemporary fashion, has amassed a wide variety of pieces from designers who have approached diversity in clothing and fashion in a broad-thinking manner. The exhibit speaks volumes to those eager for change in the fashion industry by showcasing designers who have created adaptive pieces for those with disabilities and designers who are casting of models of diverse body sizes and ethnicities. Ripley will ambitiously display fashion pieces categorized by themes of race, age, disability, gender, and sexuality. This commendable exhibition will shine a spotlight on discrepancies that plague runways and fashion media worldwide and also challenge assumptions about how fashion should be displayed, marketed, and worn.
Images: Vivienne Westwood Spring 2016, Ashish Gupta Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear, FTL Mood A/W 2015
* Although we promised to keep our list of exhibits to see in 2019 to a Top 5, we couldn't help but announce a bonus 6th. For those fans of Virgil Abloh, be sure to check out the Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech” exhibition showing 10 June - 22 September 2019 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. *
The rise of fashion exhibits in art museums has provided not only inspiration and entertainment, but a wonderful way to prompt conversation about culture and social change as well as celebrating achievements of designers that have revolutionized the industry.
To stay up to date on these and other notable exhibits, take a look at our handy Schedule of Shows which we are constantly updating.
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