Fashioned from Nature, the new major fashion exhibition at the V&A museum, explores the fascinating relationship between fashion and the natural world, since the 17th century. One aspect of the reflection on this captivating topic is about how nature and its marvels have always inspired fashion through patterns. Among the key pieces of that section are a 1780s man’s waistcoat, embroidered with a pattern of playful monkeys, as well as – and this is one of the earliest pieces in the exhibition – a women’s jacket from the early 1600’s, intricately embroidered with designs of pea-shoots and flowers. Upstairs, where the exhibition displays more contemporary pieces, are a 2016 Giles Deacon haute-couture dress featuring a pattern of delicate bird’s eggs, and a breathtaking 1997 feline gown from Jean Paul Gaultier with leopard print.
Another theme explored by the exhibition revolves around raw materials produced by nature, from main natural fibres such as silk, flax, wool and cotton to more unexpected items like whalebone or even beetle wing cases. One of the highlights of the exhibition is a breathtaking cotton dress from the late1860’s, embellished with over 5000 beetle wings and parts of wings, for a stunning result. It is said that Europeans first encountered the use of jewel beetles to embellish clothing in Asia and South America, and adopted them quite heavily in fashion from then.
Moreover, Fashioned from Nature explores sustainable fashion and draws attention to the use of innovative fabrics such as vegea, which is using grape waste as a leather alternative, or orange fiber, as well as alternative solutions to reduce the impact on the environment like low water denim. As part of this, the exhibition also approaches the harmful side of fashion, more specifically how processes and constant demand for raw materials damage the environment, and features protest groups such as Fashion Revolution and Vivienne Westwood, aiming to change the way clothes are sourced, produced and consumed.
Well, beside all of this, as a fashion lover, the exhibition is a proper feast for the eyes, with a display of incredible garments and accessories from Christian Dior, Dries van Noten, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Gucci, Ferragamo, Stella McCartney, etc. – the list just goes n and on.
The exhibition continues until 27th January 2019.
V&A Museum – London