Fashion is an art. Why else would London’s top galleries be full of exhibitions exploring the many different eras, specific designers and history of an illustrious industry worth $2.5 trillion globally? The Dior exhibition at the V&A sent London into a fashion frenzy, and interest in fashion showcases has since increased rapidly. If you’re looking for your fashion fix, visit the these must-see 2020 exhibitions and embrace your inner Anna Wintour.
The Must-See Fashion Exhibitions of 2020
The V&A has curated the first international retrospective of iconic British designer Mary Quant in almost 50 years. With over 200 garments and accessories including unseen pieces from her archive, the exhibition will explore the years between 1955 and 1975 in which Quant launched a fashion revolution on the British high street. One of Britain’s most influential designers, Quant is known for her bright, playful clothes, from the decade-defining mini skirt to vibrant tights, popularised by the likes of Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton. Until 5 February 2020.
The Fashion and Textile Museum, which hosts regular temporary exhibitions, celebrates fifty years of Dame Zandra Rhodes who created her eponymous fashion house in 1969 and has since become one of the most famous London fashion labels. Using pattern, shapes, construction and a whole lot of colour, her collections have always been a distinctive source of creativity. Explore 100 of her most famous looks and find out the story behind a 50 year British design legacy. Until 26 January 2020.
Alexander McQueen: Roses
Alexander McQueen has been a fashion house synonymous with trailblazing design and extraordinary flights of the imagination since its inception. The rose-themed exhibition at the flagship McQueen store explores the brand’s lasting connection with flower symbolism through spectacular pieces from collections past and present. The swirling red rose dress, the finale for A/W19, is a centrepiece, as is the Sarabande dress, created by Lee McQueen for summer 2007, which was once filled with fresh flowers. Opens 30 November
The first Fashion Knight and favoured couturier of the British Royal family – he was responsible for Elizabeth II’s iconic 1953 Coronation dress – Sir Norman Hartnell changed the landscape of British fashion forever with his intricate embroidery and silhouettes. This tribute to the innovative designer – a favourite of Christian Dior, among others – encompasses clothes, accessories and memorabilia, demonstrating his lasting effect on British design and craftsmanship. Until 26 January 2020.
Known for creating whimsical photographic dreamscapes for the likes of Vogue, W and Love magazine, Tim Walker is surely one of the most creative and innovative fashion photographers working today. This immersive exhibition invites you to escape into the fantastical world of his imagination and creative process, brimming with a visual feast of photographs, fascinating props and installations. Until 8 March 2020.
Do you often get teased about your ridiculously large bag collection? Well, prepare to rub this in everybody’s faces: bags are important, says the V&A who is staging a whole exhibition about the accessory. From luggage to boxes, rucksacks to handbags, the V&A will explore the history of the bag with a showcase of 300 bag-related items and artefacts dating from the 16th century onwards. Opens 25 April 2020.
Collaborations in fashion can be brilliant and are always a talking point. Rick Owens and Michèle Lamy, Nick Knight and Daphne Guinness, Shaun Leane and Alexander McQueen… in this exhibition curated by author, curator and broadcaster Lou Stoppard, explore the famous collaborations between 6 renowned design duos with photographs, sketches, garments and behind the scenes conversations recorded by Lou. Until 13 January 2020.
It was the mid 60s, and a small number of Chelsea boutiques reigned supreme, sparking a fashion revolution which, along with popular music, fuelled the cesspool of creativity and experimentation that came to define the decade. See fantastical pieces worn by the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix in this exhibition, which features rare pieces from the iconic stores and designers like Ossie Clark, Biba and Thea Porter. 3 July – 4 October 2020.
You won’t want to miss this one: the first major exhibition dedicated to the iconic fashion house at the Design Museum is likely to be the talk of the town. Showcasing some of the brand’s iconic pieces, it offers visitors a look into Prada’s creative approach, inspirations and landmark collaborations (most recently with Adidas). Future-focused while paying homage to the house’s rich history, the exhibition explores the idea of front and back – the surface of fashion and the creative and industrial infrastructure it is backed by. Opens September 2020.