Whilst in London on Friday I also visited the Victoria and Albert museum, for two reasons; the exhibition ‘Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980s’, and the London Design Festival, of which a few exhibits were shown at the V&A.
Lets begin with London Fashion in the 1980s; having got to the V&A rather late I was worried I may have missed my chance to buy a ticket for this. However, upon reaching the desk ten minutes after the last time advertised to do so, the guy selling the tickets appeared almost amused when asked if I would have enough time to actually look around the exhibition. When I reached the exhibition space I could entirely see why. It was rather small. Tiny, Miniscule even.
Having said that I can’t say I would have preferred it any bigger! I read in the Independent on Sunday this week an opinion that fashion has become rather safe in the last decade or so, mundane even; catering for what consumers will buy rather than concentrating on new aesthetics. With hindsight this exhibit is capable of supporting that opinion, in my point of view. For instance, leather S&M style leotards and Lady Gaga style strips that barely cover private parts; Adam Ant costumes with frilly shirts, military jackets and healthy doses of 80s romance; shiny gold sportswear luxe that screams some cheesy 80s movie.
On first glance this stuff seems all about the obscure; pure fashion at its best with wearability completely secondary. However, walking through a makeshift club room with multiple screens flashing film from the 80s something suddenly dawned on me: people actually wore this stuff! Normal people (ish) wore these clothes out of the house. These clothes were designed to be worn and to be different; to shock and define individuals rather than reflect safety and uniformity. Imagine going into a club and seeing hundreds of people dressed as wildly as Lady Gaga?! Brave lot this 80s bunch I’d say…
I can’t not mention the windmills before winding this one up. I wanted to see something of the London Design Festival before leaving and after being informed the thing at the top of the staircase on Level Two was well worth seeing I promptly dashed around attempting to find it before the museum started kicking people out. I dashed that much I nearly went straight past it!
At the top of said staircase you are greeted with floor to ceiling paper windmills that form a sort of tunnel, or new doorway, through to the permanent exhibition about Medieval architecture. It is quite a juxtaposition I must say! Pure white windmills that move as a breeze is formed, and pleasantly transport you through to an ancient world of wooden staircases… It never ceases to amaze me how modern art has such an ability to blend with the architecture of the museum itself; often altering the perception of other artworks in the process. You could throw a whole new meaning on the exhibition behind this tunnel if you tried hard enough!
On a lighter note, they were pretty fun to play with; and made for some cool pictures judging by the Japanese tourists enjoying themselves next to me!