I don’t know who could say, for sure, what “good taste” and “in vogue” means and what is “vulgar”. That is the point that The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined exhibition tries to achieve with the help of over 120 stunning exhibits. at Barbican, in London. And I am sure that some trend hot nowadays could seem horrible after two years and the ripped dress so blamed in a moment of fashion history would become the most wanted piece in another decade. Because fashion is never easy and static; fashion is always moving and changing, the habits and myths and rules are broken, and new trends are born.
The Vulgar Fashion Redefined, Barbican Art Gallery, London, UK, 13 October 2016 – 5 February 2017, https://www.barbican.org.uk.
The exhibition takes fascinating literary definitions of “the vulgar” as a starting point and includes 120 exhibits from the Renaissance through to the 21st century. Weaving together historic dress, couture and ready-to-wear fashion, textile ornamentation, manuscripts, photography and film, this carefully crafted installation illustrates how taste is a mobile concept: what was once associated with vulgarity is transformed by designers to become the height of fashion.
Drawn from major public and private collections worldwide, with contributions from leading modern and contemporary designers such as Walter van Beirendonck, Manolo Blahnik, Chloé, Christian Dior, Pam Hogg, Christian Lacroix, Jeanne Lanvin, Moschino, Miuccia Prada, Elsa Schiaparelli, Philip Treacy, UNDERCOVER, Viktor & Rolf, Louis Vuitton and Vivienne Westwood. The Vulgar opens at Barbican Art Gallery on 13 October 2016.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated book published by Koenig, designed by Charlie Smith Studio, featuring essays by Judith Clark and Adam Phillips, transcripts from interviews with designers in the show including Walter van Beirendonck, Christian Lacroix and Zandra Rhodes.
Photography: courtesy of Barbican Art Gallery London