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Exhibition Review – Only Human: Martin Parr at the National Portrait Gallery from 7 March to 27 May 2019

The National Portrait Gallery presents a new exhibition entitled Only Human: Martin Parr which features works by one of Britain’s best-known and acclaimed photographers.

The exhibition brings together some of Parr’s best known photographs with new work by Parr never exhibited before. The exhibition examines national identity, both in the UK and abroad with a special focus on Parr’s well known observations of Britishness.

Parr made his reputation as a photographer in the 1980s, exploring the world of leisure activities. Parr carries on this theme with photographs of trips to the beach, tennis tournaments and a day at the races. It is these places where the public and private meet and where people can play with their identities, dressing up in a variety of ways. Another popular theme for Parr is dancing, the photographer documents people dancing across the globe.

Although best known for his portraits of ordinary people, Parr has photographed celebrities throughout his career. The exhibition features a selection of portraits of personalities often in unusual settings, most of which have never been exhibited before, including Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith, Tracey Emin, Grayson Perry and Pelé.

A lesser known aspect of Parr’s work is his self-portraits, for over thirty years, Parr has visited studio photographers, street photographers and photo booths across the globe to have his portrait taken. The section entitled Autoportraits explores portraiture and portrait photography with a wide range of serious and humorous settings employed by professional portraitists.

Parr’s Photo Escultura is a group of shrine-like carved photo-sculptures commissioned from the last remaining traditional maker of this type of work in Mexico City.

The exhibition features a section of the British Abroad and Parr’s well known study of the British ‘Establishment’ including recent photographs taken at Christ’s Hospital school in Sussex, Oxford and Cambridge Universities and the City of London, revealing the eccentricities and ceremonies of elites in British life.

In the final room, new and previously unseen photographs reveals Parr’s documenting the social climate in the aftermath of the EU referendum.

The exhibition also includes a pop up ‘caff’ and shop which has lots of ‘paraphernalia’ developed from Parr’s photography.

This fascinating and entertaining exhibition provides plenty of evidence that the ‘British identity’ is often an ‘illusion’ produced for public display. In a public arena, people often dress up in a way that illustrates their ‘Britishness’. But how representative is this show of patriotic fervour ? Images like those in the exhibition seem to perpetuate and challenge stereotypes in equal measure. Underlying the humour of Parr’s work, there is serious questions of how ‘identity’ is forged by the individual and wider society.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information, visit the National Portrait Gallery website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide.com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014 , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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Exhibition Review : Fashioned from Nature at the Victoria and Albert Museum – 21st April 2018 to 27th Jan 2019

The Victoria and Albert Museum presents a major exhibition that explores the often complex relationship between fashion and the natural world since 1600. The story of how fashionable dress has constantly drawn on the beauty of nature is told through over 300 objects.

The exhibition provides plenty of evidence that the natural world has always provided inspiration for fashion. One of the earliest pieces in the exhibition, a women’s jacket from the early 1600s, is embroidered with designs of pea-shoots and flowers. There is 1780s man’s waistcoat, expertly embroidered with a pattern of Macacque monkeys. More recently there is a Gucci’s contemporary bag decorated with stag beetle motifs,  a 2016 Giles Deacon haute-couture dress features a pattern of bird’s eggs and gowns from Jean Paul Gaultier (1997) and Busvine (1933-4) both feature leopard print.

Few would question, the natural world as inspiration, however including the creatures themselves is slightly different. The exhibition includes a an 1875 pair of earrings formed from the heads of two real Honeycreeper birds and a 1860s muslin dress decorated with the iridescent green wing cases of hundreds of jewel beetles. This was the tip of the iceberg, birds, feathers, furs, whalebone and turtle shells are just a few of the materials that were taken directly from nature.

Raw materials played an important part in the global trade of the 17th and 18th centuries especially silk, flax, wool and cotton. The exhibition includes an 18th court dress that includes a variety of materials from all over the world.  At various times, whole nations depended on the revenue from raw materials and international trade grew with the import of precious materials to satisfy the demand for high quality products.

Although the introduction of man-made materials enabled fashionable dress to be available to the masses, the textile industry contributed greatly to the problems of air and water pollution.

Moving upstairs in the exhibition, the emphasis is more on the 20th and 21st centuries and shows a  display of posters, slogan clothes and artworks that illustrate the protest movements that have helped draw attention to some of the harmful side of fashion. The exhibition features the outfit worn by Vivienne Westwood whilst protesting against climate change. A man’s outfit from Katharine Hamnett’s 1989 ‘Clean Up or Die’ collection is on show alongside posters from Fashion Revolution, a collective aiming to change the way clothes are sourced, produced and consumed.

Menswear and womenswear from Stella McCartney, is displayed alongside a upcycled dress by Christopher Raeburn. The dress made from recycled plastic bottles worn by actor Emma Watson with a Calvin Klein look is also featured

The exhibition also explores some of the solutions created to reduce fashion’s impact on the environment.  These include a dress grown from plant roots by the artist Diana Scherer, who uses seed, soil and water to train root systems into textile-like material, a bio-luminescent genetically-engineered silk dress created by Sputniko! and a tunic and trousers made from synthetic spider silk from Bolt Threads x Stella McCartney. Vegea use grape waste from the wine industry to form a leather-substitute and their Grape gown is on show, as is a Ferragamo ensemble made from ‘Orange Fiber’ derived from waste from the Italian citrus industry and an H&M Conscious dress made from recycled shoreline plastic.

This thought-provoking exhibition provides evidence that fashion has been inspired by nature but has also exploited nature in often cruel and bizarre ways. The exhibition illustrates how this  complex relationship has developed over the past 400 years and how the search for raw materials have also impacted on global trade with often serious consequences on producers and suppliers. Part of the exhibition considers how many aspects of this legacy has been challenged in recent years with a series of contemporary designers looking to provide creative and sustainable popular fashion.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information , visit the V & A website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in  2014 , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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WOW – Woman of the World Festival at the Southbank Centre – 7th March to 12th March 2017

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 WOW – Women of the World is a global festival celebrating the achievements of women and girls and also looks at the obstacles that prevent them from achieving their potential and contributing to the world. With a diverse range of talks and debates, music and performance, parties, a marketplace, networking and much more, the festival brings together women and men to speak about how they are making the world a fairer place and why it matters.

WOW – Women of the World has happened in London, Derry-Londonderry, Cardiff, Cambridge, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ethiopia, New York, Australia and Baltimore.

This festival celebrates the achievements of women and girls and also looks at the obstacles that prevent them from achieving their potential and contributing to the world. The festival is celebrating its seventh year and offers  a week of talks, debates, concerts, film, comedy and workshops.

Past speakers have included Malala Yousafzai, Julie Walters, Shami Chakrabarti, Gordon Brown MP, Salma Hayek, Annie Lennox, Caitlin Moran, Vivienne Westwood, Grayson Perry, Sandi Toksvig, Leymah Gbowee, Patrick Stewart and Christine Lagarde.

The 2017 programme is now on sale, with information on Day and Weekend Passes as well as one–off events with Sandi Toksvig and Gillian Anderson.

For more information , visit the Southbank website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

Exhibition Review – The Vulgar : Fashion Redefined at the Barbican from 13th October 2016 to 5th February 2017

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The Barbican Art Gallery present The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined which is an exhibition which questions notions of vulgarity in fashion. The exhibition features over 120 exhibits from the Renaissance through to the 21st century, loaned from major public and private collections worldwide, with contributions from leading modern and contemporary designers such as Walter van Beirendonck, Chloé, Christian Dior, Pam Hogg, Christian Lacroix, Jeanne Lanvin, Moschino, Miuccia Prada, Elsa Schiaparelli, Philip Treacy, Undercover, Viktor & Rolf, Louis Vuitton and Vivienne Westwood.

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The theme of the exhibition takes the literary definitions of ‘the vulgar’ as a starting point and illustrate though historic dress, couture and ready-to-wear fashion, textile ornamentation, manuscripts, photography and film that vulgar is a concept that often changes over time and fashion designers often use the concept to shock and titillate.

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The word vulgar is taken from the Latin vulgare which means to make public and common. Gradually the meaning began to be used in relation to good and bad taste and a way for elites to differentiate themselves from everyone else. Clothes and fashion were used in this process from the earliest times and exhibition explores how extravagance, ostentation and exhibitionism began to be the vehicle for social advancement, on display is a pair of 18th century mantuas, with overskirts of nearly 2.5 metres in width.

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The history of fashion is often related to the way that clothes may cover or expose different parts of the body. The exhibition explores this theme with pieces by Louis Vuitton, Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s and Belgian avant-garde designer Walter van Beirendonck’s with his elephant skirt outfit with Stephen Jones’ oversized hat.

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Another theme of the exhibition is the way that fashion sometimes uses the vulgar and commonplace to accentuate exclusiveness. A Chanel fashion show in a shopping centre is recreated.

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The concept of vulgar is not an easy one to pin down, wealth can good yet vulgar. Clothes made with materials such as gold, velvet, pearls and spangles are often determined vulgar. When people began to become wealthy outside of narrow elites, good taste is determined by having ‘class’ which even ‘vulgar’ people with wealth cannot attain.As the exhibition suggests the popularisation and commerce aspects of fashion can be seen as inherently vulgar especially when it is perceived to be too popular, excessive, kitsch or camp.

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Curators, Judith Clark and Adam Phillips have created a highly original and entertaining exhibition about fashion past and present. Using the concept of vulgar explores some of the different themes and contradictions of the fashion world. Exclusiveness is often the starting point of many designers to appeal to wealthy patrons, other designers want to play with concepts of good and bad taste to appeal to a wider market.

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Fashion with its relationship with commerce is often not taken seriously as a creative art because it is tainted with accusations of vulgarity trying to appeal to the common people. In many ways, this exhibition questions this simplistic view illustrating that it has often been used to differentiate between the classes and provided a vehicle for groups to consider themselves of good taste and not ‘vulgar’.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

Ticket information : Standard: £14.50/ Concessions (OAP and unemployed): £12/ Students/14-17: £10 

If you would like further information or book tickets, visit the Barbican website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

 

Exhibition Review – Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear at the Victoria and Albert Museum from 16th April 2016 to 12th March 2017

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The V&A present a new exhibition entitled Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear, the exhibition tells the story of underwear design from the 18th century to the present day. Over 200 examples of underwear for men and women are featured which explore the various aspects of underwear including the practical and fashionable which are highlighted by home-made ‘stays’ worn by a working woman in England in the 18th century to pieces by designers including Stella McCartney, La Perla, Rigby & Peller and Paul Smith.

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Other highlights include long cotton drawers worn by Queen Victoria’s mother; an 1842 man’s waist belt used on the wearer’s wedding day; a 1960s Mary Quant body stocking; a pair of gender neutral briefs by Acne; a sheer dress by Liza Bruce famously worn by Kate Moss; and flesh-coloured leggings decorated with a mirrored glass fig leaf by Vivienne Westwood.

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The exhibition explores the often troubled relationship between underwear and fashion, a section on corsets illustrate that though they may have some uses in medical conditions and posture, the restrictive 19th century corsets often led to serious health problems for the wearer. Later corsets tended to be less restrictive and more supporting leading to the development of the bra, the exhibition has a lace and satin bust bodice from 1910. Bras, girdles, shapewear and advertisements for latex corsetry by 1930s brand Chamaux, to a 1950s Playtex rubber girdle and Spanx designs from 2010.

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There was a softer side to women’s underwear and nightwear which were often made from luxurious fabrics , on display is a pair of 1930s silk chiffon knickers, garters and hosiery including floral embroidered stockings worn by Queen Alexandra, wife of King Edward VII, Schiaparelli nylon stockings from 1953 and embroidered stockings exhibited at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900.

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By the 20th century, the connection between fitness and practical underwear becomes more obvious, underwear advertisements began to feature the appeal of a young and fit, sexually attractive body. This became especially important for men’s underwear illustrated in the show by a pair of David Beckham for H&M briefs from 2012, and a display figure for Y-front pants dating from the 1950s. Often a feature of underwear was to exaggerate parts of the anatomy, a display of men’s briefs by aussieBum from 2015, designed to enhance the genitals and woman’s push-up bra’s offer some examples.

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Towards the late 20th century and early 20th century, the relationship between underwear and outerwear becomes increasingly blurred. Many designers began to push the boundaries of what is acceptable and began to expose more underwear for public view.

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Designers also began to use corsetry and lingerie to express sexual desires and fantasies. Contemporary pieces by Cadolle, Fifi Chachnil and Agent Provocateur, a negligée by Carine Gilson, like that worn by actress Bérénice Marlohe in the film Skyfall, all illustrate the appeal of underwear for the bedroom.

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Moving from the private to public, designers such as Vivienne Westwood, Jean Paul Gaultier and Antonio Beradi have used underwear for performance with the ability to provoke and shock.

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This intriguing exhibition exposes the often contradictory nature of underwear moving from the restrictive fashions of the 18th and 19th centuries to the public displays of the 20th and 21st centuries. It is a story that deals with health and hygiene aspects but provides plenty of evidence of the way underwear has often transformed cultural norms about morality and sexual freedoms. The wide range of underwear on display which includes corsets, crinolines, boxer shorts, bras, hosiery, lingerie and loungewear with contextual fashion plates, photographs, advertisements, display figures and packaging offer the opportunity for visitors to understand underwear’s often strange and bizarre development.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

Admission £12 (concessions available). V&A Members go free

The V&A is open daily from 10.00 – 17.45 and until 22.00 every Friday

For more information or book tickets, visit the V & A website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in  2014 , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

 

Exhibition: Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 at the V and A – 3 May 2014 to 15 March 2015

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The V&A’s spring 2014 exhibition traces the development of the fashionable white wedding dress and the work of leading couturiers and designers over the last two centuries.
Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 features over 80 of the most romantic, glamorous and extravagant wedding outfits from the V&A’s collection. It includes important new acquisitions as well as loans such as Kate Moss’s spectacular couture wedding dress designed by John Galliano and Jamie Hince’s outfit by Stefano Pilati for Yves Saint Laurent (2011), the embroidered silk coat designed by Anna Valentine and worn by The Duchess of Cornwall for the blessing after her marriage to HRH The Prince of Wales (2005), the purple Vivienne Westwood dress chosen by Dita Von Teese (2005), and the Dior outfits worn by Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale on their wedding day (2002).

Displayed  over two floors, the exhibition focuses on bridal wear. Most of the outfits were worn in Britain, by brides of many faiths. Alongside the dresses are accessories including jewellery, shoes, garters, veils, wreaths, hats and corsetry as well as fashion sketches and personal photographs. Garments worn by bridegrooms and attendants are also on display. The exhibition investigates the growth of the Wedding industry and the increased media interest in Society and Celebrity weddings.

Visiting London Guide Review

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The opening section concentrates on the 18th century and considers how closely the choice of dress reflected on the Bride’s and Groom’s position in Society.

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The fashion for white wedding dresses was encouraged by fashion magazines in Britain and France , a selection of the magazines fashion plates is shown  in the exhibition.

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During the Victorian age, the white wedding dress , veil and orange blossom flowers became so common it was seen as the traditional wedding apparel with the use of lace becoming more common.

After the first world war, there was increasing interest in Society Weddings by the media and the dresses became more flamboyant and out of the ordinary.

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The 1933 wedding dress by Norman Hartnell for Margaret Whigham typified this with its hanging sleeves and 3.6 metre train.

If the Hartnell dress drew on medieval influences ,the dress by Charles James went to the other extreme by creating a very modern dress that showed the curves of the bride, the dress still had a train but this was divided .

In the second world war , shortages of many goods had an effect and dresses tended to be simpler and low-key.

The 50s saw a return to the more flamboyant wedding dresses especially influenced by the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

The swinging sixties saw a rejection of many of the traditions that held sway in the previous decades and this was reflected in Wedding Dresses and suits worn by grooms.

For many there was a rejection of the traditional wedding dress altogether , with many brides wearing a designer dress that could be worn on other occasions.

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In the late 20th Century and early 21st century , the traditional white wedding dress seems to have made a comeback but often with a modern twist.

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The Wedding Dresses Exhibition is over two floors in a part of the museum which looks a little like a wedding cake, as well as the dresses, there are films and photographs of weddings to create a multi media environment.

What is quite clear from the exhibition is the role that media plays in presenting certain modes of Wedding Dresses as the fashion of that moment usually by focusing on the rich and wealthy members of the Society, these fashions then permeate down through the magazines and trendsetters amongst the designer fraternity to often be adapted lower down the ladder, especially by the Wedding Industry who offer the prospective couples themes to choose from.

The exhibition will appeal to people involved in the Wedding Industry and with interests in fashion and design, however the V and A  are past masters of presenting a theme for an exhibition that on the surface probably would not perhaps appeal to a massive cross section of people , however it is the context that probably has a wider appeal and Wedding Dresses from 1775 – 2014 tell us a great deal about the societies the individual brides lived in and their social position.

Visiting London Guide Rating  – Highly Recommended

 Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 – The exhibition takes place in the V&A Fashion Gallery (Gallery 40)

from 3 May 2014 – 15 March 2015.

The V&A is open daily 10:00 – 17:45 and until 22:00 every Friday.
Ticket Information –  Tickets: £12 (concessions available)