Three fashion drawings lay beside each other.

V&A Dundee takes visitors behind the scenes of the pre-digital fashion show

The Fashion Show: Everything But The Clothes opens 3rd June 2023

10 May 2023

IMAGES: Free-to-use images

In The Fashion Show: Everything But The Clothes, the Michelin Design Gallery at V&A Dundee will provide an access-all-areas insight into the world of the fashion show in the pre-digital age.

A free exhibition, The Fashion Show: Everything But The Clothes opens on 3 June 2023 and runs until January 2024. It peels back the glamourous façade of the fashion show and takes visitors beyond the catwalk into a world of total design constructed by a broader creative community.

Beyond the clothes being modelled, every element of a fashion show is the result of a conscious design choice. This exhibition focuses on the multitude of creative considerations being taken behind the scenes and acknowledges related disciplines, from illustrators, graphic designers, and set designers to photographers, hairstylists and shoemakers, to name a few.

The Fashion Show: Everything But The Clothes is curated by Iain R Webb, Professor of Fashion & Design at Kingston School of Art and respected fashion writer and editor, in collaboration with V&A Dundee.

The majority of objects featured come from Webb’s personal archive, amassed during his four-decade career in the fashion industry, including Webb's sketch books from the front row, as well as invitations, personal notes and memorabilia from designers such as Christian Lacroix, Chanel, Dior, Vivienne Westwood, Versace and Yves Saint Laurent and many more, along with rarely seen photos of models, designers and celebrities backstage at the shows. These demonstrate how the individual can be a collector, interpreter and anthropologist of a particular moment in time and the role of journalism in documenting, interpreting and communicating the concept and inspiration behind a fashion collection. Objects from other writers, collaborators, and designers in the fashion industry will also be included, highlighting the range of different design disciplines involved and variety of approaches to fashion documentation.

The exhibition takes visitors through Webb’s editorial process and the chronology of attending a fashion show using invitations, sketches from the front row, behind-the-scenes and after-show photography, plus associated ephemera. These items illuminate how a design story is built around each collection, as well as the way in which journalists interpret and edit this experience for readers. The objects and paraphernalia, which are all part of the fabric and culture of the fashion show, offer insight into the sociocultural context of the time in which they were created; in particular, the 1980s to the early 2000s, before the democratising effects of the internet, social media and fashion bloggers, when international fashion shows and collection previews were primarily private, invitation-only events staged behind closed doors.

The Fashion Show: Everything But The Clothes deconstructs and demystifies the exclusive world of the international fashion scene by providing access to objects previously unavailable to and unseen by the public. It raises questions around the reasons we choose to collect and preserve certain items, encouraging us to consider the significance of documentation and interpretation within the world of design and how an assemblage of objects can contextualise a subject, in this case: the fashion show experience.

Iain R Webb says: "I am thrilled to be invited by V&A Dundee to unpack the fashion show experience and continue to explore themes such as image making, presentation, collaboration, interpretation and the art of documentation via my personal archive. Whenever I returned from the international fashion weeks my suitcase was always heavier, laden with invitations that others would throw away and sketchbooks full of ideas. While rooted in one individual’s perspective and experiences, I hope the show will tell many different stories of the many different creative collaborators around the designer and transport the visitors beyond the catwalk’s edge, giving them an uncustomary view of the fashion show."

Francesca Bibby, Curator at V&A Dundee says: "This exhibition is an opportunity to shine a light on the networks of different creative disciplines within the fashion industry; the makers, artists, illustrators and journalists who play an integral role in interpreting and communicating a fashion designer’s concepts across different media. Iain has been so generous in sharing his archive, stories and process as a writer and editor with us. This spirit of generosity translates into an exhibition packed full of objects, photographs and illustrations; all of which we hope will spark visitors’ curiosity and provide a glimpse of the creativity and ingenuity present behind the scenes of a fashion show."

The Fashion Show: Everything But The Clothes will be supported by an accompanying programme of discussions and talks at V&A Dundee.

Sponsor Michelin Corporate Foundation Supported by Players of People’s Postcode Lottery

For media enquiries, please contact Jennie Patterson

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