The Ball – Fashion Exhibition: Exploring the relationship between fashion, dreams, and escapism
Design Museum Holon, Israel
July 13 – December 11, 2021
Design Museum Holon unveils its newest and most ambitious fashion exhibition “The Ball” spanning the entire museum. Taking an innovative approach from Design Museum Holon’s previous fashion exhibitions, “The Ball” is a multi-sensory theatrical experience that combines fashion, sound, music, scenery, and lighting to showcase how dresses from the past resonate in today’s eveningwear design. The exhibition offers a dreamy experience full of fantasy, forging connections between the history of balls, Western fashion, and the current creations of Israel’s leading designers.
“The Ball” looks at past and present-day fashion, exploring the complexities woven into the longing for opulence and escapism. Throughout history, while balls were often reserved for the elite, fairytales provided a gateway into a world of imagination, overcoming social divides and barriers. Through a creative dialogue between the fantastic and the real, the exhibition invites visitors to explore the role of fashion and escapism in everyday life. The exhibition displays approximately 120 ball gowns representing both historical and contemporary designs, which feature luxurious materials alongside surprisingly recognizable ones. In addition to the gowns, the exhibition showcases approximately 50 accessories created especially for the exhibition by Israel’s leading designers, including a display of glass Cinderella slippers printed in 3D, and a collection of hats inspired by desserts.
The Lower Gallery “Re-sewing the History of the Ball” features specially-made historical reconstructions created from off-white cotton muslin by designer and senior lecturer at Shenkar College of Engineering, Design, and Art, Moni Mednik. These historically accurate reconstructions demonstrate the dramatic changes in the design of ball gowns and eveningwear from the 18th century to the 1980s. This gallery offers a glimpse to the more elusive layers of garments – from corsets to crinolines – those that women were required to wear in order to be fashionable – while also featuring periods when they were liberated from them. This timeline reveals the way meanings of “plenitude” in Western fashion have shifted over time, along with questions concerning exclusion, identity, belonging, and more.
Modern Ball: Israeli “Couture” in the Upper Gallery offers a look into Israel’s eveningwear industry. The display features vividly colored dresses designed by Alon Livne, which were worn by Lady Gaga and Katy Perry; a dress sewn from 15,000 old Israeli coins, designed by Shai Shalom; Ninet Tayeb’s wedding dress, designed by Victor Vivi Bellaish and Gadi Elimelech; colorful tulle dresses designed by Shahar Avnet; a digitally printed wedding dress designed by Lihi Hod; and printed by Kornit Digital; and a modest, ultra-Orthodox gown by Brurya Haritan. Some of the ball gowns on display intentionally disregard functional and commercial considerations, teetering on the line between fashion and art. The exhibition also features two projects by Orwa Shareef: Cinderella’s Story Veil – an ultra-long veil with embroidery related to the fairytale, and a gown designed by Shareef, which has the Arabic words Al-hubb deeni (Love is my religion) woven across the train, reflecting the liberal spirit of the bride’s family towards religion.
The Peripheral Corridor features “Heart of Glass: A Journey in the Footsteps of Cinderella’s Shoes.” This exhibition traces the cultural incarnations of Cinderella’s slipper from ninth-century China to futuristic thoughts about the princess in both feminine and masculine forms, using 3D-printed models. Placing the models on a timeline presents a history of the imagination – of what Cinderella possibly looked like in the minds of children and adults during different time periods. As the exhibition’s final part, “The Whipped-Cream Room and the Mad Hatter” features the work of the milliner Maor Zabar and the pastry chef Alon Shabo. The display centers on a 12-foot-high “cake”, on which dessert-inspired hats are displayed alongside sculptures of macaroon towers, wedding cakes, multitiered cakes, and cookies, all handmade from 500 pounds of sugar, almond powder, cement, and Styrofoam.