Tuesday, May 15, 2007


‘A golden age seemed to have come again’. Christian Dior, 1948
The V&A’s autumn exhibition, The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-1957, is set to be one of the most beautiful exhibitions in London this year. It will also host London's answer to The Met's Costume Institute Gala. It's always been surprising that the V&A didn't exploit for fundraising its truly world class fashion and costume archive in the same manner that The Met has for years.

The London Gala, chaired by Alex Shulman, editor of British Vogue, has a commitee derived from the usual fashion world suspects: magazine editors: Anna Wintour, Carine Roitfeld; designers: Karl Lagerfeld, Valentino, Donatella Versace, Comte Hubert de Givenchy; socialites: Lady Helen Taylor, Jemima Khan; entertainment: Kylie Minogue & Sienna Miller, and a few wild cards including Becca Cason Thrash, the Texan oil billionaire’s wife, whose support has no doubt been elicited to attract international fiscal support.

The exhibition itself will explore one of the most glamorous and remarkable decades in fashion history. Starting with the impact of Christian Dior’s New Look after the Second World War, it will look at the work of Dior and his contemporaries during the period when haute couture was at its height.

Coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the launch of the New Look in 1947, it will examine the world of couture, highlighting the work of Dior, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Hubert de Givenchy and Pierre Balmain in Paris and their London counterparts Norman Hartnell and Hardy Amies. Other successful designers of the time - such as Fath, Griffe, Stiebel, and Michael of London - will feature in a broad survey of the decade.

More than 100 dresses will be on display alongside photographs by Cecil Beaton and Richard Avedon and original Hollywood and documentary film. More than 95 per cent of the dresses are from the V&A’s own fashion collections. A section will focus on handcraft and techniques, with undergarments and the insides of dresses on display.

The exhibition will finish with a small selection of pieces of contemporary haute couture taken from the Autumn/Winter 2005/06 collection of designer John Galliano for Christian Dior in Paris.

The exhibition runs from 22 September 2007 – 6 January 2008

Dress by Balenciaga. Dress by Givenchy.
Both dresses from the V&A archive. Images reproduced from the V&A.