The new V&A fashion exhibition is one of its most powerful yet

It will change the way you view fashion

A new V&A fashion exhibition is always worth getting excited about. With past curations including Undressed: A brief history of underwear, Shoes: Pleasure and pain and more recently, the unmissable Balenciaga exhibition, the museum has a knack for always surprising us.

Which is why we’re pretty ecstatic to exclusively share the next one with you, Fashion from Nature, which will explore the complex relationship between fashion and the natural world since 1600.

Day dress hand-made from block-printed cotton and lined with cotton, Great Britain, 1825-1830

One the one hand, it will show how designers like Christian Dior, Dries Van Noten and Philip Treacy draw inspiration from nature for their collections, and on the other, it will explore how fashion’s processes and constant demand for raw materials damage the environment, featuring campaigners and protest groups that have effectively highlighted this issue such as Fashion Revolution and Vivienne Westwood.

Calvin Klein Green Carpet Challenge dress worn by Emma Watson to the MET Gala 2016 © Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

 

Day dress, silk, aniline violet, ca. 1873, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Pieces on display will include a pineapple fibre clutch-bag, the Calvin Klein dress made from recycled plastic bottles that Emma Watson wore at the Met Gala 2016, a cape of cockerel feathers and 300 other beautiful and intriguing objects.

Evening dress made of printed viscose crêpe, Busvine, Great Britain, ca. 1936, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Edwina Ehrman, curator of the exhibition, told us, ‘Everything we wear, from clothes and accessories to jewellery, is ‘fashioned’ from matter found in the world around us. We express ourselves through our appearance and enjoy fashion for its novelty, variety and creativity. Yet, fashion’s demands frequently damage the environment and endanger the world’s flora, fauna and human communities.’

Mantua, brocaded silk trimmed with silver metal bobbin lace and ermine tails, France, 1760s © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

‘In the exhibition we are asking two important questions: can we learn anything from the past; and how we can design a vibrant and creative fashion system that respects, protects and celebrates the natural world. We hope that Fashioned from Nature will encourage visitors to think about their relationship with nature and contribute to this debate.’

Greenpeace Detox Catwalk in Bandung © Greenpeace/ Hati Kecil Visuals

The exhibition, supported by the European Confederation of Flax and Hemp (CELC), will run from 21 April 2018 to 27 Jan 2019, and as usual, it’s advisable to book tickets in advance to avoid disappointments. Admission will be £12, though V&A members go free.

 

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