The Vulgar – Fashion Redefined at Barbican | ITSLIQUID

The Vulgar – Fashion Redefined at Barbican

Fashion | June 17, 2016 |

The Vulgar - Fashion Redefined at BarbicanImage courtesy of Barbican

The Vulgar – Fashion Redefined at Barbican

Potent, provocative and sometimes shocking, the word vulgar conjures up strong images, ideas and feelings in us all. The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined is the first exhibition to consider this inherently challenging but utterly compelling territory of taste. It both questions notions of vulgarity in fashion while revelling in its excesses, inviting the visitor to think again about exactly what makes something vulgar and why it is such a sensitive and contested term. Drawn from major public and private collections worldwide, with contributions from leading modern and contemporary designers such as Walter van Beirendonck, Chloé, Christian Dior, Pam Hogg, Christian Lacroix, Jeanne Lanvin, Moschino, Miuccia Prada, Elsa Schiaparelli, Philip Treacy, UNDERCOVER, Viktor & Rolf, Louis Vuitton and Vivienne Westwood. The Vulgar opens at Barbican Art Gallery on 13 October 2016.

 

The Vulgar - Fashion Redefined at BarbicanImage courtesy of Barbican

 

Conceived by exhibition-maker Judith Clark and psychoanalyst Adam Phillips, the exhibition takes fascinating literary definitions of ‘the vulgar’ as a starting point and includes a wealth of over 120 stunning exhibits from the Renaissance through to the 21st century. Weaving together historic dress, couture and ready-to-wear fashion, textile ornamentation, manuscripts, photography and film, this carefully crafted installation illustrates how taste is a mobile concept: what was once associated with vulgarity is reconjured by designers to become the height of fashion. Encompassing a 500 year timeframe, The Vulgar showcases historic works alongside a roll call of contemporary fashion. The exhibition demonstrates how fashion through the ages actively breaks with and revises taste to create new expressions of style, often celebrating, courting or exploiting so-called vulgarity and its possible pleasures.

 

The Vulgar - Fashion Redefined at BarbicanImage courtesy of Barbican

 

Jane Alison, Head of Visual Arts, said “I am so thrilled that we are staging The Vulgar at the Barbican. With such a bold and brilliant concept, Judith Clark and Adam Phillips have created a highly original, redefining and hugely enjoyable exhibition about fashion past and present. Playing with juxtapositions, different themes and vistas, they’ve set the stage for visitors to wonder, ponder, question, reflect or just revel in why some costumes are considered vulgar, how that changes through time, context and experience. The exhibition builds on previous Barbican exhibitions such as Jam: Style+Music+Media in 1996, The House of Viktor & Rolf in 2008, Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion in 2010 and more recently The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk in 2014”.

 

The Vulgar - Fashion Redefined at BarbicanImage courtesy of Barbican

 

As a product of popularisation and commerce – seemingly always a poor imitation of a superior object – fashion itself is shown to be inherently vulgar; but more especially when it is perceived to be too popular, excessive, sexualised, kitsch or camp. Visitors are taken on a journey through these thought provoking categories. The exhibition looks at fashion’s enduring fascination with vulgarity’s excesses, featuring moments in dress history of extravagance, ostentation and exhibitionism; such as a pair of 18th century mantuas, with overskirts of nearly 2.5 metres in width, a selection of exquisite 18th century stomachers and a collection of intricately decorated fans from The Fan Museum in Greenwich.

 

The Vulgar - Fashion Redefined at BarbicanImage courtesy of Barbican

 

One of the exhibition’s themes directly explores the relationship of fashion to the body; both through over exposure using lace and body stockings to simultaneously reveal and conceal the body in looks from Louis Vuitton and Pam Hogg; and the exaggerated body, where the body is explored and its erogenous zones are amplified in looks such as Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s tits top and Belgian avant-garde designer Walter van Beirendonck’s elephant skirt outfit with Stephen Jones’ oversized hat. Some installations are devoted to certain materials, accessories, fashion labels and embellishments that have come to embody, at different times, the supposedly vulgar; such as gold, velvet, pearls and spangles.

 

http://www.vogue.it/news/vogue-arte/2016/06/13/the-vulgar-fashion-redefined-mostra/Image courtesy of Barbican

 

The history of exhibiting fashion, as opposed to fine art, is tainted with accusations of vulgarity – for example, the relationship between the gallery and the department store – something which the exhibition explores by revisiting historically significant displays that were received as outrageously vulgar when first shown. Based on new research into the origins and loaded interpretations of ‘the vulgar’, the exhibition runs together Clark’s installations of dress and Phillips’ commentary. Drawing on voices as disparate as Jonathan Swift and Coco Chanel, Samuel Johnson and Diana Vreeland, the exhibition exposes ‘the vulgar’, like its counterpoint ‘good taste’, to be ultimately all about perspective – something to fear and something to enjoy.

 

Barbican Art Gallery, London, UK
13 October 2016 – 5 February 2017

 

more. barbican.org.uk

Are you an artist, architect, designer? Would you like to be featured on ITSLIQUID platform? Send an e-mail to info@itsliquid.com or fill the form below

RELATED POSTS


FEATURED DESIGNER: Giambattista Valli

Fashion | September 24, 2020

Born and raised in Rome, Giambattista Valli holds a BA from Liceo as well a degree in Art. Influenced by his city, his Roman roots, the movies of Antonioni... Read more


BOCHNER BOETTI FONTANA

Art | September 23, 2020

Curated by Mel Bochner in collaboration with Magazzino Italian Art, This Special Exhibition Examines Parallel Artistic Movements in the 1960s and 1970s in the U.S. and Italy through the artwork of Bochner, Alighiero Boetti, and Lucio Fontana. Cold Spring, NY – August 24, 2020 – This fall, Magazzino Italian Art opens a special exhibition examining the formal, conceptual, and procedural affinities in the work of Mel Bochner, Alighiero Boetti, and Lucio Fontana. Curated by Bochner in collaboration with Magazzino, the exhibition marks the first presentation to consider the American artist’s extensive, yet overlooked, engagement with the practices of Fontana and Boetti, as well as with Italian art at large. Bochner Boetti Fontana offers, through the artist’s perspective, a number of resonances between his work and that of the Italian and Italian-Argentine artists: an exploration of systems, language, and materials; and a sense of irony and humor, often and especially shared by Arte Povera and Conceptualism, as all these works opened the work of art onto the space of display. Read more


Nike House of Innovation

Fashion | September 22, 2020

Nike opened its third House of Innovation, at the historic 79 Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, continuing its endeavor to harness the power of digital to best serve consumers. Over four floors and some 2,400 square meters (nearly 26,000 square feet), Nike Paris, House of Innovation 002 gives unparalleled access to Nike's best innovations, athlete storytelling and experiences. Like its predecessors in New York and Shanghai, the flagship - situated amongst some of the world's most iconic landmarks - offers an immersive and digitally-powered end-to-end consumer journey. Offering one of the largest assortments of Nike footwear in Europe, modular store layouts that are consistently updated and exclusive Member opportunities, Nike Paris is the Swoosh's latest proof point in its ongoing commitment to transform the future of retail, while serving as a vibrant center of sport. Read more


UNTITLED, 2020. THREE PERSPECTIVES ON…

Art | September 20, 2020

Punta della Dogana presents the collective exhibition 'Untitled, 2020. Three perspectives on the art of the present', conceived and curated by Caroline Bourgeois, artist and art historian Muna El Fituri and artist Thomas Houseago. Conceived specifically for the spaces of Punta della Dogana, ‘Untitled, 2020. Three perspectives on the art of the present’ is the fruit of discussion and dialogue between the three curators, who are linked by longstanding personal and professional relationships. Read more


Sign up for our Newsletter.

Enter your email to receive our latest updates!