|Image source: The Guardian|
Recently, I went to see the new exhibition at the V&A Museum - Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950. I had been looking forward to seeing this, and when I recently bought membership for the V&A, I decided that this would be my first exhibition with my fancy new card.
There were some delightful dresses and I really enjoyed the way that they had chosen to curate the exhibits. Instead of going chronologically or some other such way, they grouped together dresses by colour palette. It was fun to see dresses from, say, the '50s, '70s and '80s side by side with almost exactly the same shades and combinations of colour.
|Yellows and oranges. The '70s number here (second from left) |
was surprisingly one of my favourites. I'm not usually a '70s
girl, but I just found it so simple and elegant
(Image source: Vogue)
|Reds and blacks. (Image source: Vogue)|
|Corals. I was fascinated by the kaftan dress on the left. |
I couldn't quite work out whether there was actually anything
holding the sides together. Would be quite fun to wear, I think.
(Image source: Vogue)
Naturally, I loved practically all the '50s dress and most of the '60s, but I also found something to like in every era. When I moved up to the present-day dresses on the upper floor I was rather underwhelmed though - somewhat ironically as the dresses there felt like they were desperate to make a statement and grab some attention. But for me they felt somehow soulless. Perhaps because they haven't stood the test of time... Or perhaps because, being modern, it was just like going into Top Shop or some such, which I always find depressing...
|Give me old fashioned elegance any day (Image source: Stylist)|
Despite all the lovely vintage dresses downstairs, I have to confess that I would have been slightly disappointed if I'd paid to get into the exhibition. It felt rather thin somehow. I think my main complaint would be the lack of interpretation. There was hardly anything to put ballgowns into context or to chart their development - the information boards could basically be summed up in one sentence: "People used to wear ballgowns to debutante balls and other such events, now celebrities wear them on the red carpet". A few select dresses had further information but I felt that so much more could have been said to draw out the viewer's appreciation and understanding of the dresses and how fashions have developed. As it was, it just felt kind of like window shopping... Except I couldn't walk in and try any of them on! I was also frustrated about the lack of mirrors in some of the display cases. There was one amazing 1950s dress with some lovely detailing around the waist - I would have loved to have been able to see how it was constructed at the back and a well-placed mirror would have enabled that. I think such simple measures might have encouraged more overall appreciation of the dresses' structure and craftsmanship.
So, despite some undoubtedly lovely dresses, not necessarily one to hurry off and see. The recently re-opened fashion galley is looking great though. I only had a quick look around the permanent exhibits but will be going back for a proper visit some time. And I will also return with a review of the V&A's other current exhibition British Design 1948-2011 once I've been to that. I've heard good things about it from a couple of workmates so I'm looking forward to it.