Wonder of the vulgar: Barbican exhibition to delve into garish fashion

stephen jones oversized headgear

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Wonder of the vulgar: Barbican exhibition to delve into garish fashion” was written by Lauren Cochrane, for The Guardian on Tuesday 7th June 2016 15.20 UTC

The Barbican gallery has announced a new exhibition for the autumn dedicated to vulgarity in fashion from the renaissance to the present day.

The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined was conceived by exhibition maker Judith Clark and psychoanalyst Adam Phillips. It explores how ideas of vulgarity have changed and evolved, from extreme 18th-century corsets to the modern trend for oversized logos.

Dior couture from the Barbican's The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined exhbition
It’s all about the bling: couture from the late 1990s by John Galliano at Dior. Photograph: Guy Marineau

The exhibition will include 18th-century mantuas, with overskirts of nearly 2.5 metres in width, and stomachers, the panel of embroidery worn over corsets. These will be contrasted with more modern items, such as Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s “tits” T-shirt bearing a photograph of naked breasts, and oversized hats from the milliner Stephen Jones.

An 18th-century mantua from the Barbican's The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined exhbition
Wide load: an 18th-century mantua. Photograph: Peter J Stone ARPS

It also explores what good taste is at any given moment, which is particularly relevant now that high fashion brands such as Vetements, Moschino and Gucci embrace the garish and downright tacky. Vetements’ signature piece is a T-shirt with DHL branding, hardly the expected aspirational logo.

Work by designers including Elsa Schiaparelli, Jean Paul Gaultier, Miuccia Prada, Raf Simons and Marc Jacobs will show how these ideas have a backstory, with commentary provided in the form of quotes from Jonathan Swift, Coco Chanel, Diana Vreeland and Samuel Johnson.

Chloé by Karl Lagerfeld from the Barbican's The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined exhbition
Just bananas: Chloé by Karl Lagerfeld from 1984. Photograph: Guy Marineau

Jane Alison, head of visual arts at the Barbican, praised the curators for creating “a highly original, redefining and hugely enjoyable exhibition about fashion past and present”.

She said it followed on from previous Barbican fashion exhibitions including Jam: Style+Music+Media in 1996, The House of Viktor & Rolf in 2008, and Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion in 2010.

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