Catwalk: Fashion at the Rijksmuseum

Catwalk: Fashion at the RijksmuseumImage courtesy of Rijksmuseum

Catwalk: Fashion at the Rijksmuseum

Photography and fashion go together like peaches and cream. So it is almost with a twist of genius that the upcoming spectacle Catwalk: Fashion at the Rijksmuseum is, fittingly, a fashion-focused exhibition designed and curated by world-renowned Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf. For the occasion, six galleries of the Philips Wing have been decked with a textile tribute to Dutch fashion, spanning from 1625 to 1960, each piece plucked from the Rijksmuseum’s fashion item collection with some pieces being shown for the very first time.

 

Catwalk: Fashion at the RijksmuseumImage courtesy of Rijksmuseum

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From a pair of Golden Age underpants belonging to the Count of Nassau Dietz, to Helena Slicher’s wedding dress – the widest gown in the Netherlands; the exhibition weaves in many unusual stories. Within these stories are clues into the social rules of bygone eras, eras describing age-old fashionista fetishes, social status, age, royalty and trend, with the museum’s Curator of Costumes, Bianca du Mortier, explaining: “The garments presented in this exhibition reflect the stories of the people who wore them. In fashion, the choices of the wearer count – they make him or her a trendsetter or a follower“.

 

Catwalk: Fashion at the RijksmuseumImage courtesy of Rijksmuseum

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Each stitch and ruffle was celebrated under the eye of photographer Erwin Olaf, and each room curated under a specific theme. For example, the Couture Show installation features a prim line of classical Thonet chairs, sketching out the first row of a fashion runway, with visitors invited to sit and watch a chronological fashion parade, all in past tense. Some gems on show include a post-war dress made of silk Royal Airforce pilot’s maps; a Yves Saint Laurent “Mondrian dress”; and the silk taffeta cocktail dress by Cristóbal Balenciaga.

 

Catwalk: Fashion at the RijksmuseumImage courtesy of Rijksmuseum

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To breathe life into these garments, Bonaveri‘s mannequins don contemporary fashions while Nanasai Corp‘s models enrobe with 18th to 20th century attire. A sobering look into one of fashion’s closest allies: time, Catwalk revisits bygone epochs of style that may have passed, but are certainly not forgotten. With gentle reminders such as this exhibition, it acts as another major tribute to one of the most steadfast corners of society: that of what we wear.

 

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Catwalk: Fashion at the Rijksmuseum
Until May 15, 2016

 

more. rijksmuseum.en

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