Tag Archive: V&A

Oct 10 2014

First Look: Alexander McQueen – Savage Beauty At The V&A


When the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York honoured Alexander McQueen’s brilliance with a retrospective exhibition back in 2011 I knew I had to see it, sadly a press trip I was suppose to be going on was postponed and I missed it by a few days. Since then I have hoped, prayed and signed numerous online petitions to see the exhibition here in the UK and was ecstatic when my favourite museum the V&A announced they would be bringing the sold-out Savage Beauty exhibition to London.

Yesterday I attended the press preview for the exhibition and I am so excited as it seems like the long wait will have been worth it as it is going to bigger and better than the original and generally take over the V&A. There will be 30 additional garments, including some rare pieces that couldn’t make the journey to New York, like the red ballet dress from The Girl Who Lived in the Tree collection from AW08 and the breathtaking white feathered dress from The Horn of Plenty AW09 collection, as well as pieces lent by private individuals and collectors such as Katy England and from the Isabella Blow Collection.

There will also be a Cabinet of Curiosities, which will showcase designs produced by McQueen with jeweller Shaun Leane and milliner Philip Treacy, as well as pieces from his time at Givenchy, including the exquisite black horned headpiece from the Givenchy SS97 collection.

I am also pleased that there will be a room dedicated to the designer’s early years, exploring his career as a  pattern cutter on Saville Row, as well as showcasing some of his earlier work, including a piece from his Hitchcock-inspired ‘The Birds’ SS95 collection, and footage from his SS96 The Hunger collection. There will also be a life-sized hologram of Kate Moss replicating the one that closed McQueen’s Widows of Culloden AW06 catwalk show and the exhibition will close with McQueen’s last fully realised collection, Plato’s Atlantis from SS10, which fused the designer’s love of the sea and technology, and was widely considered to be his greatest achievement.

The exhibition will be huge, there will be more than 200 ensembles and accessories showcased, over 10 sections, making it the largest ever collection of McQueen designed pieces seen together. Trust me I only saw four looks on display at the preview and I was blown away. The exhibition is going to be popular, the museum has already sold 16,000 tickets and it is widely expected to out perform the David Bowie exhibition that ran last year, so probably best to pre-order your tickets to avoid disappointment as it is only on from March 14 – July 19, 2015.

Is anyone else planning to see the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A next year?

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Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, runs from March 14 – July 19, 2015. Admission £16 (concessions available). V&A members go free.

May 11 2014

Exhibition: V&A – Wedding Dresses 1775-2014


With the excitement of planning a wedding I was really looking forward to seeing the V&A’s latest fashion exhibition, Wedding Dresses 1775-2014, because who doesn’t love to look at wedding gowns, especially when they include dresses worn by Gwen Stefani, Kate Moss and Dita Von Teese.

Spanning across two floors, much like last year’s Ballgowns exhibit, I much prefer this space in the V&A than the one currently occupied by the Glamour of Italian Fashion, there is more space and the dresses really do make more of an impact. However, unlike the recent John Paul Gaultier display at the Barbican there isn’t anything special about this exhibition, well except the exquisitely crafted wedding gowns of course.

As much as I loved the history of the opening section exhibition, covering gowns from the last two centuries tracing the development of the white wedding dress, I wasn’t wowed by anything. I felt a lot of it had been covered before, the shapes and silhouettes of the dresses look like pieces out of the V&A archive, they just aren’t in white, and I wasn’t a fan of the inclusion of the Royal video, it would have been fine if the Duchess of Cambridge’s dress had been on display, it just felt a little bit of a tourist push to make the exhibition more popular with foreign visitors.

My favourite moment from the opening section was seeing socialite Margaret Whigham’s magnificent Norman Hartnell gown from when she married in 1933. Not only is this gown beautiful, a simple sheath dress with dramatic medieval-style hanging sleeves, but I loved how the 3.6 metre train was more sophisticated than dramatic – really suited the Thirties.


What I did love though was the mezzanine level featuring wedding garments from the last 50 years with an emphasis on the glamour and spectacle of weddings today, which of course includes celebrity weddings. Maybe it is because these dresses are more familiar, maybe it because they are lot more grande, or maybe it is just because they were laid out nicer, but seeing these gorgeous couture gowns up close was amazing.

The first dress you see when you come up the stairs is the divine purple Vivienne Westwood ballgown-style wedding dress that was custom-made for Burlesque star Dita Von Teese in 2005. Not only am I a huge fan of Dita’s but this gown is so special, not only is the colour exquisite, it really does shimmer, but I loved the drama and the styling with the Stephen Jones hat – it really is a wow factor dress.

The celebrity moments really did make this exhibition for me, seeing Gwen Stefani’s John Galliano for Dior spray-painted pink wedding dresses was more stunning than I it looked in pictures. The colour really worked with the dress’s asymmetric construction and the pairing of such a romantic veil – this is how you marry a traditional gown with a modern twist and I love it. Also I think Gwen had the best choice in shoes!!!


Another highlight was Ian Stuart’s Flower Bomb dress from 2011, I think this was because of its Southern Belle quality in the volume and drama of the skirt, my only wish was that it wasn’t trapped in a glass cabinet. Isn’t it beautiful, and I love the addition of the hat, for a bride who wants something a little different.

If you are a little wedding obsessed like me you will love this exhibition in parts, the modern dresses from the likes of Jenny Packham and Temperley London will have you gushing, but I think you might be a little disappointed not to see more couture.


V&A’s Wedding Dress 1775-2014 exhibition is open until March 15, 2015 and costs £12. 

Apr 03 2014

Exhibition: V&A – The Glamour Of Italian Fashion

V&A-Italian-Fashion-5When I think about Italian fashion, I think about how many gorgeous luxury labels there are, and the exquisite quality that they bring to the red carpet in-particular. You have the romantic and elegant vibe of Valentino, bold and edgy fashion covered by Versace and Dolce & Gabbana, you have fabulous tailoring and minimalism from Armani, uber-sexy glamour from Roberto Cavalli and pure femme fatale from Gucci – and that’s without mentioned the beauty of Prada, the fun of Moschino, the divine prints of Pucci and the knitted beauties by Missoni.


The V&A’s latest fashion exhibition explores all their influential contributions to fashion, as well as the rich passion of the Italian fashion industry from the end of the Second World War to the present day in its beautifully curated ‘The Glamour of Italian Fashion’ exhibition, which runs from April 5 until July 27, 2014.

One of the most striking rooms within the exhibition has to be the array of modern-day pieces, these are the most recognisable – from the hand-painted Dolce & Gabbana ballgown to a floor-length romantic Valentino gown and accessories including the Fendi baguette bag, Gucci’s ‘New Jackie’ bag and Tod’s vibrant driving moccasins.

Just seeing the red carpet beauties up close, especially the gorgeous Armani Prive gown from the spring/summer 2010 collection, encrusted with Swarovski crystals was amazing to see – the craftsmanship is just incredible.


But the most revealing section had to be the opening ‘Return to Luxury’ area of the exhibit, telling the story of the early ‘Sala Bianca’ catwalk shows in Florence held in the 1950’s and featuring couture designers including Simonetta, just look at her spectacular 1950’s evening gown above, and Capucci, who became known for his sculptural style with this intricate multi-layered scalloped ruffled cocktail dress presented with a silver velvet stole from 1957.

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Other highlights had to be this red tulle couture dress by Valentino from 1977, the dramatic colour and the ruffles is so synonymous with his romantic and ethereal work. As was seeing the Bulgari emerald and diamond jewellery that was worn by Elizabeth Taylor in 1967 to a masked ball in Venice, the iconic jewels just show off what Italian glamour is.

This exhibition is so much more than fashion, it is a history on how Italian fashion became such a fixture in the industry, the earlier couture designers, as well as the rise of the country’s luxury fashion houses. If you love fashion, Italian style and gorgeous dresses – you will love this exhibition.

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The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014, sponsored by Bulgari, runs from April 5 – July 27, 2014 at the V&A.

Oct 21 2012

Exhibition: Hollywood Costume At The V&A

I have been getting excited about seeing the V&A’s Hollywood Costume exhibition since it was announced earlier this year. I just couldn’t wait to see Audrey Hepburn’s dress and pearls from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, all the marvellous creations of costume designer Edith Head, as well as getting up close and personal with the replica Harry Winston Isadora necklace as seen in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, well last week I was lucky enough to be invited to the press preview and I wasn’t disappointed.

This is a huge exhibition, there are more than a hundred costumes from some of the most iconic films – from Scarlett O’Hara’s green curtain dress from Gone with the Wind, Joan Crawford’s blue gingham waitress uniform in Mildred Pierce, John Travolta’s white-3-piece suit from Saturday Night Fever, and there is even a huge displays dedicated to Indiana Jones – complete with fedora hat and whip.

Situated over three rooms, this exhibition really embraces the world of movies, literally full of lights, camera and action *sorry couldn’t resist*. As well as having the costumes on displays the lighting, the sound, and the use of technology makes you feel like you are in the cinema. Granted it maybe a little dark in places, a little noisy, and somewhat spooky seeing a slow-moving image of the actors face displayed on a TV screen suspended above the costume, but I think that adds to the atmosphere of the exhibition.

The three rooms are designed to tell the story of costume design, from the role of the costume designer in cinema, the creative process of collaborations, and finishing up with the finale, which is basically an overload of all the best known costumes in cinema history – all your heroes and heroines are there. Even some of my favourites are included such as Katharine Hepburn’s jewelled evening gown from The Philadelphia Story, Keira Knightley’s green silk from Atonement, Barbra Streisand’s Funny Girl ball gown, and Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods even shines in her pink two-piece suit.

As the exhibition is sponsored by Harry Winston the jewellery has re-created the famous ‘Isadora’ necklace as worn by Kate Hudson in one of my favourite rom-coms How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Seeing the diamond cluster necklace with its 51.94 carat yellow sapphire drop pendant is one of my highlights – also her yellow silk dress is just as stunning as it is on-screen.

Another highlight was seeing Edith Head’s pale green suit designed for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds from 1963, this section really brings the costume to life with the use of technology. I don’t want to give it away, but I could have spent all day just checking this one section out, the interviews and the sketches were really incredible – also pretty cool seeing the birds fly over the display.

The exhibition is open to the public until January 27, 2013 – so you don’t need to rush – give yourself plenty of time to take it all in. Tickets are £14 each and I would recommend booking online – this is going to be a popular exhibition.

I am not going to spoil the exhibition – but can you name all the below films from the costume?

May 16 2012

Exhibition: Ballgowns – British Glamour Since 1950 At The V&A

Vivienne Westwood

Yesterday I was in ballgown heaven as I was lucky enough to attend the press preview of the V&A’s new fashion exhibition – Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950, which is the first exhibition in its newly renovated V&A Fashion Galleries. The exhibit charts the evolution of the ballgown from society-girl to red carpet glamour, and features British gowns from the likes of Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Burberry, Erdem, as well as London Fashion Week favourites Mary Katrantzou, Holly Fulton, Mark Fast, and even a specially created metallic leather dress designed by Gareth Pugh for the exhibition.

Gareth Pugh

I have to be honest, the Fashion Galleries themselves downstairs didn’t look too much different to me, they’ve added some cool illustrations and a few new commissions, but generally speaking there isn’t a drastic change; however upstairs is a different story, they’ve restored the gallery to its original architecture with its domed ceilings and added a mezzanine gallery, which really does open up the space.

Downstairs you wander around more traditional gowns, think ballgowns fit for royals, there were pieces designed by Hardy Aimes and Norman Hartnell, and Princess Diana’s ‘Elvis Dress’ designed by Catherine Walker has been taken out of storage. But it was upstairs that blew me away, the impact of the three domes filled with contemporary ballgowns was just incredible, my eyes were instantly drawn to Giles Deacon taking flight, then onto an Amanda Wakely design intertwined with a wooden chandelier prop, and then I settled on Vivienne Westwood’s dramatic gown. The first impression at the top of the stairs is intense, I kind of wish that was the start of the exhibit.

Giles Deacon - spring/summer 2007

There were a lot of gowns I liked, from the bright floral Erdem beauty to the exquisite feathered Alexander McQueen gown that Daphne Guinness wore to the Met Gala last year, and it was nice to see the likes of Holly Fulton, Craig Lawrence, Roksanda Illincic, and Mark Fast being part of the display.

Roksanda Illincic - spring/summer 2009

Jenny Packham gown that Sandra Bullock wore

But my favourites had to be the gorgeous gowns that celebrities have worn on the red carpet: there was Sandra Bullock’s gorgeous Jenny Packham gown that she wore to the 2011 Golden Globes; Ralph & Russo have recreated a crystal-covered dress worn by Beyonce, especially for the display; and Burberry even lent the museum one of the gowns that Rosie has worn. The biggest surprise was seeing Shailene Woodley’s Met Gala dress, designed by Christopher Kane, considering it only took place last week.

I have to admit I loved the exhibition, anything that showcases gorgeous gowns embellished with sequins, feathers, crystals, and made of the most exquisite fabrics gets my vote, I just wasn’t wowed by it all. I loved the way the gowns were showcased upstairs, you could see them from all different angles, and some of the gowns were rotating, I also loved the quirky oversized pearls that were dotted around. The best bit though was that it was nice to see that they hadn’t shut everything away behind glass as you can’t always see all the details as clearly.


Craig Lawrence, Christopher Kane and Ralph & Russo

Roksanda Illincic stands out

Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen

Loved the chandeliers and the domes

Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950 opens on May 19, and runs until January 6, 2013, so no need to rush to take it in, but I would recommend buying your tickets online before you go. Adult tickets cost £10 and entry for students is £7.

Are you excited to see the ballgowns?

**For more images head on over to my Facebook page I have an album full of them**

Aug 02 2010

Scarf Delight: V&A Teams Up With Erdem

Pic: V&A

I am a big fan of the V&A, I love visiting the shop as it has one of the best fashion bookshop in London but I also love that it has great designer collaborations. The latest designer commission is with one of my favourite designers Erdem to celebrate the exhibition Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes, 1909–1929.

Erdem has applied his magnificent skills with colour and prints and created this gorgeous colourful silk scarf. At almost a metre square it incorporates original costume designs by Léon Bakst for the ballet Narcisse in 1911 – the colours are divine and would look good with any outfit.

‘It’s wonderful to work with Bakst’s illustrations; I thought they were such a wonderfully inspiring starting point for the scarf. The Ballets Russes are so inspiring and colourful…’ Erdem Moralioglu

The Narcisse Scarf is available exclusively from the V&A Shop from September 2010, priced £185.

May 23 2010

Weekend Review: Grace Kelly, Princesses And Elephants

Busy weekend with cultural stops across London and a lot of Elephant stalking. As my mum was in town it was the perfect excuse to take in a few exhibition. First up was the Grace Kelly: Style Icon exhibit at the V&A, followed by the Enchanted Palace aka Kensington Palace, and in between tales of the Elephant Parade, cream tea at Selfridges and a cute buy from Uniqlo.

Grace Kelly: A Style Icon

This exhibition was always going to need to do a lot to impress me – as I loved Grace Kelly in movies High Society and Rear Window. To me she is one of the true style icons of the great Hollywood era. I have to admit I was a little disappointed, I loved what was there – but for me there just wasn’t enough.

I liked the fact that they broke her wardrobe into three sections, The Actress, The Bride and The Princess, which made for a great time line of her style. The Actress focuses on her work from the ’50s, The Bride centers from when she met Prince Rainier of Monaco until their marriage in 1965, and The Princess showcases her exquisite taste thereafter. But I left feeling like I wanted more.

What I did like was the fact that it wasn’t just her love of Dior, Chanel and Givenchy that were on show, there were also outfits designed by her costume designers off High Society, Helen Rose and Rear Window, Edith Head.

When I expressed on Twitter my disappointment I was greeted by very strong views, of course many people loved this collection of her outfits as it is nice to see inside such an icons wardrobe, and don’t get me wrong I will recommend everyone to see it as her dresses are amazing, but even when you enjoy something you can still be disappointed.

It was nice to gain an insight into what clothes she liked, her love for draped, flowing chiffon gowns were evident throughout the three main areas. There was also her famous Hermes ‘Kelly’ bag from 1955, and one of my favourite sections were her sunglasses and brooches.

If you love Grace Kelly, clothes, and old Hollywood glamour then I would say check it out, the exhibition runs at London’s Victoria & Albert until September 26. I would also suggest that you book in advance as it was packed. Check out more information on the V&A website.

Enchanted Palace

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this temporary exhibition at Kensington Palace as it has basically been put together while they undertake a £12m renovation of the palace. To be honest I was very pleasantly surprised they’ve created a wonderful installation using the best in fashion, design and performance and challenged visitors to find the seven princesses who one lived inside its walls.

I had such fun, even as an adult it is good to use your imagination once in a while and this exhibit certainly does that. There were so many highlights, like Princess Margaret’s dress (above), to the gorgeous Vivienne Westwood creation to represent the story of Princess Charlotte (below).

What I loved was the interpretation of the palace’s hidden stories, from the rebellious princess who ran away, to the sad queens who lost babies and the young heir who escaped her overprotective mother.

For some this experience was too much I think some just remember that it was Diana’s home for so long, and they expected that this would be a tribute to her. If that’s what you’re expecting please don’t go as you’ll be disappointed – this exhibition was full of drama, cultural poet, interaction and some gorgeous designs. Full marks to the Royal Palaces for commissioning such a beautifully imaginative concept.

This dress worn by Diana, Princess of Wales is displayed in the finale room of the tour, the Room of Dancing Princesses. A gorgeous end to such a sublime experience. The Enchanted Palace runs until August 20, find out more at the Kensington Palace website.

Elephant Parade

Pic: Ziggy by Matthew Williams (in Selfridges)

This is kind of one of my obsessions at the moment, The Elephant Parade. There are 250+ life sized baby elephants painted by established and emerging talent from the art and design world, a few fashion designers and celebrities, and they are all dotted across London until late June.

So when I say I saw 19 in a day I feel like this was an achievement!! It was fun finding them, photographing them, not quite understand them, getting frustrated with people sitting on them, perching on them for a cigarette and even doing the annoying I need to be in every picture I take. To display all 19 on this blog would be OTT even for me, so here are my favs and I will posted all of them on my flickr *as soon as I figure that out*.



Pic: Little Moo by Turdsak Pironkraipak

Pic: Heaven's Haathi by Abu Jani Sandeep Khosia

Pic : Seymour by Emma Elizabeth Kemp

If you spy any of them roaming the streets of London do me a favour and tweet me a picture @fashionnbarbie. I’ll be very grateful.

Find out more about the Elephant Parade at their website, and if you find one you love and need in your life they’re auction them all off for charity or you can buy mini replicates at their shop.


To top off the day Mum and I had a very nice cream tea in Selfridges Yellow Cafe, anyone done with shopping on Oxford Street such check out this gem of a cafe on LG. It does the most superb cakes, and a divine cream tea – the fruit scone were perfection.

The day wasn’t really about shopping, but I couldn’t resist this Runaway tee, £12.99, from the Agyness and Emily Deyn collection for Uniqlo – perfect to team with leggings.

Pic: Uniqlo

Such a good weekend!!

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