Is fashion art?
The jury is still out on that, mostly because it wasn’t until about 10 years ago did art critics truly started viewing fashion in the same light as they did a painting by Claude Monet or Pablo Picasso, for instance. It was only when The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition, curated by Andrew Bolton in 2011, yielded record-breaking visitorship did critics recognised fashion’s unique ability to connect with people and evoke emotions.
Since then, museums and luxury fashion houses alike have taken to articulating their narratives by holding exhibitions across the globe. With brands like Balenciaga and Giorgio Armani digging deep into their archives to pay homage to the creative geniuses who’ve contributed to their success over the years and Hermès with their petit h exhibition which allowed guests to shop the pieces. So if you’re a fashion enthusiast or simply someone who appreciates the informal education time in a museum offers, here are 8 highly anticipated fashion exhibitions happening in 2020 to plan your vacations around.
Celebrating the craftsmanship that goes into creating the red-soled shoes we all know and love, L’Exhibition[niste] by Christian Louboutin is set to be Palais de la Porte Dorée’s largest exhibition to date. Featuring masterpieces from Louboutin’s Art Deco inspired pieces to the iconic Pigalle shoe and sketches, the exhibition was curated by Olivier Gabet, Director Of The Musée Des Arts Décoratifs. Guests get to step into the world of Christian Louboutin, brought to life in through a series of 11 chapters—and that’s not all.
New works by New Zealand-native multimedia artist Lisa Reihana, Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi, British design duo Whitaker Malem, Spanish choreographer Blanca Li, director and photographer David Lynch and more from past collaborations will also be showcased alongside Louboutin’s own magnum opus. A must-see at the exhibition would definitely be the final chapter aptly titled Imaginary Museum. Here, you quite literally get to walk through Louboutin’s inspirations from over the years.
The exhibition is runs until 26 July 2020 at Palais de la Porte Dorée, 293 Avenue Daumesnil, 75012 Paris, France. Tickets and more information are available here.
2. Betty Catroux, Yves Saint Laurent, Féminin singulier
Organised by Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris in partnership with Saint Laurent, the exhibition pays homage to fashion icon Betty Catroux—Yves’ personal muse who’s been shot by fashion greatest photographers such as Steven Meisel, Helmut Newton, Irving Penn and Jeanloup Sieff.
The show is largely made possible by a very special (and generous) donation to the museum by Catroux, which is also the largest that the museum has ever received. Artistic director Anthony Vaccerello will be curating pieces from Catroux’s wardrobe, comprising 180 haute couture pieces to best represent her uncanny personality and prevailing influence on the House’s notable styles.
“An allure, a mystery, an almost nefarious aspect, an elusive yet desirable nature, all that underlies the house’s aura, and you understand the magnitude of it when you meet Betty” said Vaccerello in a press release. About 50 designs showcased at the exhibition will echo the ‘masculine feminine style’ that Laurent’s designs are known for. Additionally, 138 pieces designed by Yves Saint Laurent for his ready-to-wear line along with accessories will also be on display.
The exhibition runs until 11 October 2020 at Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris 5 Avenue Marceau, 75116 Paris, France. Tickets and more information are available here.
3. Heimat. A Sense of Belonging
Curated by the maestro Giorgio Armani himself and the Peter Lindbergh Foundation, “HEIMAT. A SENSE OF BELONGING” pays tribute to prolific fashion photographer Peter Linbergh. It also celebrates the deeply embedded affinities between the two, who’ve set very personal standards both in life and art, and their shared appreciation for the profoundness of truth saw them becoming close collaborators since the ’80s. A Sense of Belonging is threefold, mostly focusing on Lindbergh’s popular and lesser known work.
The famed photographer’s irreplicable point-of-views, guiding principles and ideas of space and beauty lend themselves as sources of inspiration, starting with portraits of The Naked Truth, featuring Jake Gyllenhaal, Isabella Rossellini and the likes. Next, The Modern Heroine focuses on his interpretation of femininity. Lastly, the exhibition culminates with Heimat, the German word for a place where one belongs, and for Lindbergh, it was the industrial happenings of Duisburg, Germany. All of which portrays the complexities and directness of Lindbergh’s works and its sense of timelessness.
The exhibition runs until 2 August 2020 at Via Bergognone, 40, 20144 Milano, Italy. Tickets and more information are available here.
4. The Real Thing
Curated by Anastasiia Fedorova and commissioned by Ligaya Salazar, The Real Thing explores the fine line between fashion bootleg and inauthenticity, and the disruptive creative power that comes with the former. The exhibition highlights the work of artists and creative collectives alike who use bootlegging as a form of social commentary on globalisation, capitalism, identity and sustainability. The focus of the showcase is twofold: a celebration of these creatives’ works to stimulate thoughts on consumerism and as a study on how we connect with fashion brands today.
One of the most notable works featured in the collection is by none other than internationally renowned Harlem couturier Dapper Dan, photographed by Drew Carolan and Dr Noki. Other artists exhibiting their works include Akinola Davies, Ancuta Sarca, Anna Ehrenstein, Black Obsidian Sound System, Citizens of Nowhere, Hassan Kurbanbaev, HYPEPEACE, Julien Boudet, May Hands, NITE DYKEZ and Tamara-Jade Kaz, Roxman Gatt, Shukri Lawrence and Sports Banger.
The exhibition runs until 2 May 2020 at Fashion Space Gallery London College of Fashion 20 John Princes Street W1G 0BJ, United Kingdom. Tickets and more information are available here.
5. Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk
Held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk chronicles the history and global appeal of the traditional Japanese garment via a fashion lens from the 1660s to present day. Worn both by men and women, the kimono is Japan’s national dress and was worn as everyday dress till about 1945, when it became reserved for special occasions. On the flipside, the kimono became a popular choice of clothing elsewhere in the world, especially among youths with a fascination and admiration for Japanese culture. Curators Josephine Rout and Anna Jackson explore this phenomenon, its socio-cultural impacts in Japan and how it became fashionable wear in the early 20th century—so much as that it has become an emblem of Japan.
Works of art, vintage and antique kimonos, as well as contemporary adaptations for film and fashion teamed with accessories will be on display at the exhibition. Think Obi-Wan Kenobi’s 1977 Star Wars costume to fashion iterations for Madonna and Björk and contemporary renditions by Hiroko Takahashi, Duro Olowu and Thome Brown.
The exhibition runs until 21 June 2020 at Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2RL, United Kingdom. Tickets and more information are available here.
6. Martin Margiela
Martin Margiela is perhaps best known for his deconstructivism works in haute couture and disrupting the fashion industry by holding off-grid fashion shows—a norm today. 10 years after taking the fashion world by storm in the late 1980s, Margiela stepped away from his eponymous label to focus on his art practice. He normally shys away from the spotlight, but this June, he will be holding a namesake exhibition that takes over the entire Lafayette Anticipations building in Paris. It will be more of an art exhibition than a fashion exhibition, in the sense that it will showcase the former couturier’s artworks instead of his equally marvellous and intricate fashions. But there’ll definitely be some references to fashion in his works and we can’t wait to see it.
The exhibition will take place from 12 June to 13 September, 2020, at Lafayette Anticipations, 9 Rue du Plâtre, 75004 Paris, France. Tickets and more information are available here.
7. Alaïa and Balenciaga: Sculptors of Form
According to famed fashion curator and historian Olivier Saillard, Azzedine Alaïa’s love for Cristóbal Balenciaga and his gowns began in 1968 when Balenciaga’s then-vice general director Mademoiselle Renée invited Alaïa—who was then already designing for private clients from his home on rue de Bellechasse—to help himself to scrap the House’s scrap fabrics in hopes he would breathe new life into them, instead of having to wastefully discard the fabrics. This birthed Alaïa’s massive collection of the Spanish couturier’s works—which is now estimated to comprise of about 500 pieces. Together with Association Azzedine Alaïa, Saillard has curated a new exhibition titled Alaïa et Balenciaga, Sculpteurs de la Forme (Alaïa and Balenciaga, Sculptors of Form) showcasing works from both designers which were similar in many ways although they never had any interactions.
Another interesting fact is that although Saillard is the man behind the exhibition, the idea for it came Hubert de Givenchy, six months after the passing of Alaïa. Unfortunately, he too passed on two weeks after approaching Saillard at age 90. The exhibition will be a spectacular show of two of fashion’s greatest designers and how they were indeed contemporaries of each other, as well as the other facets of their careers and personalities. It’s definitely worth planning a trip around.
The exhibition runs until 28 June 2020 at Association Azzedine Alaïa 18, rue de la Verrerie, 75004 Paris. More information available here.
8. Prada: Front and Back
Prada: Front and Back is slated to be the first museum exhibition of its scale on one of fashion’s most influential brands. Expect unprecedented access into Miuccia Prada’s creative approach, inspirations and hallmark collaborations. The exhibition will also explore Prada’s take on the concept and practice of fashion and its evolution. It will also seek to convey the different infrastructural tiers of fashion. Visitors can expect to see the art, architecture, film, design and photographs that influenced Prada—in every sense of the word.
The exhibition will take place in September 2020 at Design Museum 224-238 Kensington High St, Kensington, London W8 6AG, United Kingdom. Tickets and more information are available here.