There aren’t that many ‘quiet’ fashion-related exhibitions in London. We’re lucky that we have institutions that curate some amazing exhibitions to do with fashion but of course the media love to make a big noise about everything resulting in queues, sold out tickets and packed-out exhibitions.
However, I think I’ve come across the QUIETEST exhibition there is and it’s very very hidden away. Well actually it’s more like a walk than an exhibition. Famed fashion curator Judith Clark and psychoanalyst Adam Phillips have come together to create a series of definitions with accompanying installations entitled The Concise Dictionary of Dress.
These installations have been set up in Blythe House which was originally the Post Office Savings Bank and now houses V&A’s Archive of Art and Design.
These definitions are supposed to re-describe clothing in terms of anxiety, wish and desire and so it isn’t a conventional ‘dictionary of dress’ as you would expect and along with the installations, it really explores the psyche of how we as human beings relate to dress and all its codes of conduct.
For example, to illustrated the term ‘Armoured’, there is this resin sculpture sitting on top of Blythe House
A series of images and pieces illustrated the term ‘Essential’… mostly depicting Grecian draped pieces and the classicism of those lines…
Then to illustrate the term “Pretentious” you get a collection of antique gowns (Chanel, Vionnet, Madame Gres…) from the early part of the 20th century and across from it is a plaster impression of the dresses…a comment on the ‘hollowness’ of fashion perhaps?
You’re taken through a derelict Blythe House up through industrial goods lift and through staircases, eerily silent corridors and so I deem this the quietest exhibition I have ever encountered which of course gives you the opportunity to think and reflect.
Here is a video trailer of the exhibition to give you a better idea…