Rejoice in the Pleasures of Bad Taste with London Exhibition ‘The Vulgar’

Featuring heavyweights to the like of Vivienne Westwood, Phili Treacy, Christian Dior, and more.

 

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‘The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined’, Installation images, Barbican Art Gallery © Michael Bowles / Getty Images.
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The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined Installation Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 12: The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined, Barbican Art Gallery, 13 October 2016 - 5 February 2017>> on October 12, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Bowles/Getty Images for Barbican Art Gallery)
‘The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined’, Installation images, Barbican Art Gallery © Michael Bowles / Getty Images.
‘The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined’, Installation images, Barbican Art Gallery © Michael Bowles / Getty Images.
‘The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined’, Installation images, Barbican Art Gallery © Michael Bowles / Getty Images.
‘The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined’, Installation images, Barbican Art Gallery © Michael Bowles / Getty Images.
‘The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined’, Installation images, Barbican Art Gallery © Michael Bowles / Getty Images.
‘The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined’, Installation images, Barbican Art Gallery © Michael Bowles / Getty Images.
‘The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined’, Installation images, Barbican Art Gallery © Michael Bowles / Getty Images.
‘The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined’, Installation images, Barbican Art Gallery © Michael Bowles / Getty Images.
‘The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined’, Installation images, Barbican Art Gallery © Michael Bowles / Getty Images.
‘The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined’, Installation images, Barbican Art Gallery © Michael Bowles / Getty Images.
‘The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined’, Installation images, Barbican Art Gallery © Michael Bowles / Getty Images.
‘The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined’, Installation images, Barbican Art Gallery © Michael Bowles / Getty Images.
‘The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined’, Installation images, Barbican Art Gallery © Michael Bowles / Getty Images.
‘The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined’, Installation images, Barbican Art Gallery © Michael Bowles / Getty Images.
‘The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined’, Installation images, Barbican Art Gallery © Michael Bowles / Getty Images.

“Vulgarity exposed the scandal of good taste,” declares psychoanalyst Adam Philips to headline a new show at the Barbican Centre entitled, “The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined”. Co-curated with exhibition-maker Judith Clark, the show takes on several literary definitions of “the vulgar”, thus including a large collection of textiles, historic dress, ready-to-wear, couture, as well as photography, film, and manuscript.

With objects drawn from major collections, both public and private, across the world, the display contains work from leading modern and contemporary designers such as Chloé, Christian Dior, Christian Lacroix, Jeanne Lavin, Miuccia Prada, Philip Treacy, and many more.

The show is ambitious, as its constructed timeline stretches across a 500-year chronology of fashion trends all the while maintaining a strict contemporaneity. The premise: that fashion is inherently always vulgar, and that definitions of vulgarity and scandal thus, must be actively reconsidered and reimagined.

There is also then the vulgarity of excess to be considered, a notion explicated further through the display of extravagance in several forms, such as, a pair of 18th Century mantuas for example, with overskirts as wide as 2.5 metres; or exquisite 18th century stomachers and a series of intricate fans on loan from The Fan Museum in Greenwich.

The excess is also inspected through the body, with displays that examine the lace and lingerie detail that both expose and conceal the body, with looks from Louis Vuitton to Pam Hogg. The exaggerated body is thus introduced into the narrative, with designers like Vivienne Westwood, Walter van Beirendonck, and Malcolm McLaren taking centre stage with tit-tops, elephant skirts, and oversized accessories.

With displays by Clark that run alongside a commentary by Philips, the show seeks to expose “the vulgar” in opposition to “good taste” – as something to celebrate, enjoy and see as integral to the world of fashion.

“The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined” runs from 13 October 2016 to 5 February 2017  at the Art Gallery in the Barbican Centre, you can book tickets here.


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