Victoria & Albert museum London: source of inspiration.
Christian Dior and Mary Quant. Fashion and women seen in completely different ways but that have shared a historical period.
Last week we visited the fashion exhibitions present at the Victoria & Albert museum in London, the first one dedicated to the Haute Couture and the history of the “Maison Dior”, the second one, smaller but very well structured, dedicated to Mary Quant.
It was really exciting walking around the themed halls of the exhibition dedicated to Christian Dior, needless to say that for us those clothes are real works of art! Put almost in awe.
The Dior woman belonged to the bourgeoisie and to the nobility, in fact the “Maison” has been dressing the English Royal family for years, the items shown present a refined woman, lover of high fashion garments that reflected her social status, a woman turning back to the bodices, to the waist-tightened, and a woman who had to look perfect. Dior has then devised the total look by dealing with an entire wardrobe: from the dress, to the accessories, to the shoes, up to the perfume.
The exhibition also describes the famous names who succeeded Christian Dior in the years after his untimely death in 1957: Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons, Maria Grazia Chiuri. Different styles, recognizable one another, but always in the name of great taste and the search for femininity, the woman of the upper middle class who can dress in precious clothes and high-heeled shoes at any time of the day. Only with the arrival of M.G. Chiuri we see a strong change. The taste becomes commercial, it is no longer the dress for the unique occasion, but it becomes a dress for every day, certainly always with refined fabrics and in any case of value. But perhaps here the “Maison” has lost its charm ... ..
After the walk through the rooms, set up in a truly unique way, stopping to read the year of creation and the designer of each piece, we go out with the feeling of having travelled through time between pomp, ballrooms, fashion shows, unique occasions in which women were protagonists thanks to what they wore ... .. Well we dreamed ... ..
We leave the exhibition a little dreamy and head towards our second stop at the V&A: the exhibition dedicated to Mary Quant that entered fashion in the 60s.
Small but well done, it takes place on two floors, and tells of a completely different woman. Here the dress is not meant to make it appear, but the woman is the protagonist, a woman who decides to be free and comfortable and the dress must be something beautiful, but, above all, functional. On one of the walls there is a poster of a model with a soft dress and coat immortalized while she is running along the streets in London. We paused for a moment and told ourselves that no woman in Dior clothes could ever run.
Two women so different that they live during the same years.
"The key point of fashion is to make fashionable clothes available to all". “Mary Quant "
You can feel this thought through the exposure, bright colours, different and innovative products. The Maison Christian Dior has bottles of perfume studied in detail to appear elegant and classy themselves, here we have roller skates, dolls with endless accessories, cotton lingerie and "them" ... an entire section dedicated to tights, when they were still an important part of the woman's wardrobe that could not go out without wearing them.
Colour is the protagonist…. A cheerful and entertaining exhibition that does not put you in awe as the first. There is an air of freedom and initiative. We lingered a long time on the tights section, with the various packs, the combinations with the clothes, the posters.
Mary Quant is remembered as the inventor of the miniskirt. In fact, short dresses and skirts are displayed in large quantities, but you can also see the suits that would be perfect today! We even photographed the faux leather suit! Many pieces of this exhibition could be worn today without appearing old-fashioned.
Thinking that some of the exposed clothes were over 50 years old left us speechless. It was an interesting journey, and it is not possible to say which one we preferred, because between the two there is an abyss. There are two different ways of experiencing fashion, two different women that are shown through it. Certainly, however, we have gathered ideas and inspirations for our future collections.