Why the Barbican’s latest fashion exhibition is going to be a must-see

We’ve got everything you need to know

It’s been two years since the Barbican in London displayed a major fashion exhibition. And not since The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier retrospective in 2014 have we been so excited about an upcoming curation at the gallery-slash-performing arts centre. Now, we can happily announce, The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined is set to open this October.

The uniquely themed exhibition was conceived by curator Judith Clark and psychoanalyst Adam Phillips. Delving into the territory of taste and dress-codes, from the Renaissance to today, the duo plundered major public and private collections from all over the world to pull together a broad range of pieces. The pieces plucked all convey the complexities of ‘taste’, from classic labels to more contemporary brands including Manolo Blahnik, Chloé, Christian Dior and Moschino.

Taking a sartorial trip through historic dress, couture and ready-to-wear fashion, the exhibition will also feature textiles, ancient manuscripts, photography and film to explore taste and its transience, and how what was once considered vulgar, can be reinvented by modern designers and given a new lease of life.

From extreme 18th-century corsets to more recent trends, like oversized logos, some of the highlights include Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s infamous ‘tits’ t-shirt, and super-sized hats from milliner Stephen Jones. Accompanied by quotes from fashion legends, including Coco Chanel and Diana Vreeland, each piece comes with a fascinating backstory.

One of the exhibition’s key themes also delves into the relationship between fashion and the body; both through over-exposure using lace and by showing how designers play with the concept of revealing and concealing the body, through looks from Louis Vuitton.

A word of warning: be sure to make a visit quick once it opens as The Vulgar will only be on display for four months.

‘The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined’ opens at the Barbican Art Gallery, London, on 13 October 2016 and runs until 5 February 2017.

Reading now

Popular