The Museum of Fashion
Posted in Urban Life
When the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY showcased its initial work of a living designer – Yves Saint Laurent (1983) – it was the first time this type of exhibition had been held. However, a subsequent dispute led to the decision amongst the museum trustees that all future solo exhibitions had to represent the work of a deceased designer only.
Today, fashion exhibitions attract a large audience and have become major blockbuster shows for museums around the world. I have been fortunate to witness both Savage Beauty and Christian Dior; Designer of Dreams at the infamous V&A. Both have established record-breaking figures, including Alexander McQueen’s being the most visited ever. It is true that the V&A have been hosting fashion exhibitions since 1971; however, they are continuously reaching outstanding results in the number of visitors which increases yearly.
It is the same with The Met; in 2018, ‘Heavenly Bodies’ smashed the record for the number of people who attended, beating Treasure of Tutankhamen from 1978. This budding movement isn’t just good for museums, but for the fashion industry too, as the audience experience a meaningful acknowledgment with the brand. Fashion houses are also realising the importance of their history, and how it attracts a whole new perspective and spectator.
Therefore, with this new interest in their legacy, global brands are now cultivating their own archives. In fact, Yves Saint Laurent was the first to do so in 1964, as they kept a selection of prototypes, whereas Chanel and Dior caught on in the 1980s.
Consequently, without the heritages of such universal fashion labels being archived, none of these exhibitions would exist. It is not just garments that are being accumulated, but accessories worn at the shows and also original sketches. Imagine visiting such a storage accolade, what an intimate yet overwhelming experience that would be.
Another reason that I am a prodigious fan of exhibitions is how one can share a collective love and interest in such depth of history of certain designers and significant fashion houses. I look forward to my next visit.
Victoria Tozzi Lidster xx
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vam.ac.uk metmuseum.org dazeem.com nytimes.com pinterest.com