It’s safe to say that if there is a fashion exhibition happening in a city I’m visiting I’ll do everything I can to fit it into my schedule and while I was in Amsterdam last week I had the chance to visit the Catwalk exhibition at the Rijksmuseum dedicated to Dutch fashion from 1625 to 1960 curated by renowned Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf.
What drew me into this small but perfectly curated exhibition was the fact that this wasn’t a modern-day fashion exhibit, I loved Alexander McQueen at the V&A and even Louis Vuitton, but it was nice to see garments worn by members of the Frisian branch of the house of Nassau in the Golden Age, gorgeous classically-inspired Empire dresses and bustles, as well as twentieth-century French haute couture by Dior and Yves Saint Laurent, plus it was nice to see the fashion details on show from corsages to chemical lace and embroidery.
At the heart of the exhibition is the catwalk room where everyone gets to sit front row and see the gorgeous cocktail dresses, including a silk taffeta dress by Cristóbal Balenciaga, slowly rotating by. If I’m honest, the catwalk scrolls by a little too slow, I found it a little frustrating looking at the same four dresses for about 10 minutes, I would suggest walking around – trust me, you won’t miss anything, you’ll actually see more of the details.
Another highlight was seeing the widest dress in the Netherlands, Helena Slicher’s wedding gown, which she supposedly wore to marry Aelbrecht baron van Slingelandt. No picture sadly as unlike most of the exhibition it was stuck behind glass, which I know is sometimes necessary but it frustrates me at fashion exhibition. But some cool facts – the dress spans more than two metres, there’s a flower missing a petal if you visit try and spot it, and I loved the fact that the ruffle sleeves are currently all the rage, just shows how fashion trends keep coming around.
I wish I had more time to fully digest this exhibition, the beauty really is in all the details of the outfits as well as the stories behind who wore the looks. There is a guided tour, which if you have the chance do look into as I think the variety of looks really could use the extra commentary.