More On The V&A Museum

As a follow-up to our prior post about the fashion collection at the V&A Museum in London, we got to thinking that the V&A can be a bit intimidating for people visiting for the first time. From our experience, here are a few tips for the first-timer:

  • Arrive Early- The museum opens at 10 am and the line starts forming up long before. We suggest arriving at 9 to 9:30 am.
  • Plan Your Visit- It’s probably best to start with sections farthest away from the front entrance. Plan out the sections you want to see and work your way from the inside. The first time we visited, we started on the Sixth Floor and worked our way down (FYI- the costume gallery is on the first floor). Maps of the museum are available on the V&A Website.
  • Special Exhibitions- In addition to the permanent collection, there are often special exhibitions going on which they charge a separate admission fee. We strongly advise that you reserve tickets far in advance- like as soon as it’s announced. With the recent Dior exhibition, we bought the tickets in January even though we weren’t in London until late April. Don’t count on being able to just buy tickets on the date of your visit.
  • Internal Climate- This is never brought up anywhere but museums in the UK and the rest of Europe often have minimal ventilation and air conditioning (unless the collection requires it) and things can be quite stifling at times, especially in the warmer months. This can be a bit of a trial so plan accordingly. Fortunately, there’s a nice large outdoor central courtyard where one can catch their breath.

While the above is by no means a comprehensive list, it should make your first-time experience more enjoyable. Finally, below is an introductory video from the V& A that you might find helpful:

Off To The V&A For A Little Dior, Part III

Image result for dior 18th century inspiration v&a

As you have no doubt discerned from our past two posts, the Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibit at the V&A Museum has exerted quite a powerful influence over us- it’s a rich treasure trove of ideas and inspiration to us even though it’s got nothing to do with the late 19th Century. Or does it? Well, fashion has always been influenced by history and the fashion cycle itself is a constant movement of styles, inspired by the past (as well as the present) and the House of Dior is no exception. Here are just a few examples from the exhibition:

Ancient Egypt, anyone? πŸ™‚ Designed in 2004 by John Galiano, this one is definitely more of a couture “concept piece” than anything else. Here’s another view of it in action:

Image result for dior display v&a room with light show

Or, perhaps, the 18th and Centuries:

The coat could almost work for pure 18th Century dress… πŸ™‚

This one just has us thinking “panniers”…

With this one, we see a melding of 18th and 19th Century influences, especially with the corset bodice and draping.

With this dress, it’s more about the fabric than anything else- The fabric and trim detail could easily have been seen on either an 18th or 19th Century dress and especially something by Worth. Next, we see an 18th Century silhouette that inspired this creation by John Galiano for the House of Dior:

The beading and trim on this dress are simply exquisite. Here’s a close-up view:

Or perhaps some Chinoiserie…

And then there’s the grand finale, there’s a ball room displaying various evening wear, complete with a rotating center display combined with changing light to simulate day and night (the full rotation takes about five minutes of so) and the effect is stunning! What’s especially interesting is that the colors of some of the dresses dramatically changed as the light changed from day to night (Note: in full disclosure, I was unable to get good pictures of the ballroom that capture the magnitude and sweep of the room so I borrowed a few pictures from the web).

 

Image result for dior dresses v&a exhibit

And here’s my favorite that I took:

With that, we conclude our tour of the Dior exhibit at the V&A. Overall, the experience was excellent, especially since we were there in the morning when it first opened so we didn’t have to contend with heavy crowds. There was a lot more than what we’ve posted, we focused on some of the highlights that we were particularly struck by. This is definitely worth a visit but if you were unable to view it in person, we highly recommend getting the book:

 

Image result for dior display v&a book

We hope you’ve enjoyed these posts! πŸ™‚

Off To The V&A For A Little Dior, Part II

Image result for dior atelier production 1950

And the journey continues in the Land of Dior, aka the Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibit at the V&A Museum…one of the most striking things about the exhibit was that it was not only a sampling of Dior’s works as well as his successors, but it also gave some insight into the design and production process. All too often, fashion exhibitions make it look like garments are seemingly created out of thin air…well, they’re not and the exhibit documented this quite well:

It first starts with sketches…lots of sketches…and then fabrics are selected:

And before any fashion fabrics is cut, a toille or mock-up was created to ensure that garment fit properly. Here is what we call the Wall of Toilles:

Image result for house of dior atelier fabric

Just to appreciate the magnitude of “The Wall of Toilles,” here’s a more full picture, courtesy of the V&A Museum.

This display filled all four sides in a separate room from floor to ceiling (it was at least 50 feet high) and was simply impressive- this is an aspect ofΒ  haute couture that’s almost never seen nor discussed in a museum setting, It’s definitely thought-provoking and good to see. Stay tuned for more…

 

 

In The UK – Part 1

London

After a somewhat uncomfortable 10 1/2-hour flight (that will teach us to ignore the advice on seatguru.com), we made it into Heathrow and were quickly whisked away to our hotel in Kensington. As luck would have it, we arrived at the tail-end of some warm weather with clear skies and zero possibility of rain. πŸ™‚ After some issues with the hotel room (it turns out that there is no air conditioning allowed in historic “listed buildings” above the ground floor, we got everything sorted out and we were ready to hit the town running.

The next morning, we decided to start out somewhat slow by heading over to the V&A Museum for a quick once-over. We were hoping to get into the Frida Kahlo exhibit but you need special tickets to get in and they were all sold out so we contented ourselves touring some of the regular galleries. Unfortunately, most of the better 19th Century costumes are in storage and there’s not a lot on display so it was a bit disappointing though not unexpected (we were hoping that they’d at least rotate a few items).

Although we’ve commented on this before, one of the best stand-outs was this dolman made in 1885 by Pingat:

V&A Museum Dolman Jacket Pingat 1885

Here are a some more views, courtesy of the V&A:

Pingat Dolman 1885

Pingat, Dolman/Jacket; V&A Museum (T.64-1976)

Pingat Dolman 1885

This bodice from 1895 also caught our eye:

V&A Museum Bodice 1895

Unfortunately, getting good pictures are is difficult when the items are behind glass but here are some better views, courtesy of the V&A:

Bodice 1895

Guiquin, L, Bodice, 1895; V&A Museum (T.271&A-1972)

Bodice 1895

Three-Quarter Front View

Bodice 1895

Close-up of upper sleeve.

Although it’s easy to miss because the bodice is behind glass, the silk fabric and trim are very pleasing and especially the silk brocade sleeve treatment. It’s very subtle but adds a depth both in texture and luster. It’s too bad that the skirt is not available for view- it would have made for a beautiful dress- the bodice is only a hint. πŸ™‚

Finally, we end with this fan from Ronot-Tutin that was created c. 1890-1900:

V&A Museum

Stay tuned as we head to Soho for some fabric shopping… πŸ™‚