The Women’s Fashion Power Exhibition (October 2014 – April 2015) is a current exhibition showing how women, models, princesses etc. all dress in a certain way to convey themselves. The fashion they choose shows the world who they are and what statement they are addressing to everyone.
The women who are featured in the exhibition are all “super-powerful” the outfits demonstrate their own personal style and the idea behind it. Although I am not familiar of the majority of women, I did recognize some, or at least what they were famous for:
Joan Burstein – Founder of Browns Fashion, which opened first in 1970. She brought in many young aspiring designers such as Missoni and Ossie Clark. She also helped along Giorgio Armani, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren.
Anne Hidalgo – Mayor of Paris, fond of wearing Agnès b., Sonia Rykiel and Apostrophe.
Thea Green MBE – Founder of Nails Inc 1999.
Dame Vivienne Westwood – A fashion designer largely responsible for bringing in modern punk. She is now renowned for the ‘former queen of punk.’ The way that she has been called by this name reveals a powerful statement about her, giving her a major form of identity, like she had created the whole style of punk. Her clothing represents individuality and creation; her bold statements of colour and unusual patterns that sit on the materials makes you feel unique to what people would have usually worn. You can tell the journey she went through with her style of designs, going against the idea of ‘normality’ of the time that she designed these pieces. Normally, being different would be seen as abnormal and going against the law of society – the emotion I felt when I saw this was rebellion, and I felt that if I were to wear this outfit out proudly, I would feel proud to have people looking at me, knowing I was physically making a statement to people with my clothing than verbal.
I noticed how every person had their own identity with fashion, whether it is classical like Diana, or completely out of the ordinary such as Vivienne Westwood herself. All of the outfits resemble a particular purpose and makes a statement with each one.
Although this exhibition is not what I particular would look for when thinking about my design, it has taught me how people go beyond boundaries to produce something, and the way they get themselves so recognized is because of what they do with their cause, and also with their appearance. It has influenced me to think about how I could incorporate the thought process behind these designs and ideas into my own style of thinking, and going from the very basics. The brief of my project, relating to identity, links hugely with this exhibition. Every piece of clothing made has been especially made for a purpose, and from that, it relates to very specific people.
I felt really inspired being in this exhibition, knowing that all of the clothing that was shown around me was worn by someone who had a major influence in today’s society, and shows our appreciation to those who had influenced us, as well as the designers themselves to create the outfits they did, changing the way we see fashion everyday.
The gallery was filled with all different kinds of fashion over the years, and how it has developed in the materials, colour, theme and sizes. The most shocking piece I had seen was the corsets. I was astounded by how small your waist was forced to become all because of fashion! The emotion I felt when browsing over these corsets was a mixture of envy, shock and ore. Because having tiny waists was a huge fashion in the 1800’s, corsets were considered a statement of beauty and feminism to women.
Around the time, the corset was a fashion statement to women being curvy and having a tiny waist. The intention was that the smaller the waist, the more feminine the woman was. Although it was considered a fashion statement at the time, the change in the opinion then and today is different. Similarly to today however, the high heel is considered a brutal fashion statement. The higher and more uncomfortable the heel, the better women are supposedly meant to look if they wear them. High heels make the woman feel more powerful and beautiful, knowing they are taller and their legs look longer, which is what the corset also signifies in the same respect.
The emotional journey that a woman would go through when wearing the corset, is that it emphasises the beauty within them at all times. The corset would be worn all the time, especially when they are out, boasting their tiny waistline along the streets. You can see that young women would mainly be the ones wearing the tiny corset, showing young men and other people how beautiful and feminine they are. Corsets have had a huge impact on today’s society; the tradition lingers the fact of a ‘typical woman’ having a small waistline and bustier bottom/top half, exaggerating the womanly features that we pursue, in order to attract men or to look as feminine as they can.
The most unusual piece I noticed was this hat by Philip Treacy 2009. The hat was in fact a helmet, which I had no idea about! The design of it was incredibly detailed and required a lot of time to put the materials together and keep them in place when worn. The hat was designed for Lady GaGa at the MTV Music Awards; her clothing is essential to make a statement. Her clothing is what shows her personality, making people around her feel less powerful and that she is the most detailed object in the room.
My favourite piece in the exhibition was the simplest dress by Azzedine Alaio 1985. I love vintage clothing, and I would personally wear this dress if I had the opportunity. Although there are a lot of outstanding pieces of clothing, simplicity I find can be key when being a designer. As Antoine De Saint-Expupery says,
“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”