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Sunday, 11 November 2012

Take me to the Ball! Ballgowns:British Glamour Since 1950.

I have always loved the V and A’s fashion exhibitions from Anna Piaggi’s crazy costumes in Fashion-ology to Kylie’s golden hotpants (Kylie-  The Exhibition)  they have never failed to woo me.  Ballgowns: British Glamour since 1950 was yet another example of how well  the Victoria and Albert Museum shows off  their fantastic costume collection. The exhibition features sixty  beautiful pieces of  clothing ranging from the truly iconic such as Lady Diana’s ‘Elvis’ dress designed by Catherine Walker,  to the innovative ‘latex’ dress by Atsuko Kudo alongside a selection of shoes, and bags to fit the variety of occasions.

Ballgowns  highlights a key progression in the history of fashion from 1950’s and documents the change from a debuntante private ball in the 1950’s to the very public catwalk or red carpet today. However individuality, extravagance,  and spectcle  remain the core of every design, whilst every design stands along in its beauty the sheer practicalities of making some pieces are inspiring, such as the silver leather number by Gareth Pugh and the feather dress by Alexander McQueen, but unfortunately I have no skills in painting leather or making a skirt of feathers so I doubt I will be seen in any similar dresses soon!

The beauty of the  ballgowns speak for themselves but the exhibition design over two floors makes you feel like part of the occasion, not only  are you celebrating the re opening of the fashion galleries, or the celebration of British fashion designers since 1950, you are joining the dresses, joining the party and picking out what you would wear to the, ball, royal event, or catwalk you feel glamourous and in awe of the courture. The mannequins may be faceless but the pieces and layout bring character, the labels detailing, where it was worn and who by become an afterthought to the beauty of the dresses. Even those innovative designs that sometimes become ugly next to  traditional ballgowns oozed glamour. 

The only disappointing element of this exhibition was the gift shop, where unfortunately I wasn't able to buy a dress like the ones displayed, instead I settled on dreaming about the Elizabeth Emanuel dress worn by Elizabeth Hurley in the Estee Lauder Pleasures campaign of 1999, and hoping to find a swing in a English country garden. 

Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950 is open until 6th January 2013. Tickets cost £11.50 and concessions apply. 

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