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:
No, we’re not there right now! But, since it’s such a visual treat to visit, for the benefit of those who have not been there, we’re posting this video showing some of the highlights of the fashion collection. Enjoy!
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? 🙂 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:
Or, perhaps, the 18th and Centuries:
The coat could almost work for pure 18th Century dress… 🙂
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).
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:
We hope you’ve enjoyed these posts! 🙂
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:
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 of 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…