Yup, last week our task was to visit 5 different exhibitions and relate them back to our work. Like we should be doing anyway if we were researching correctly… Anyway I’m just going to get on with writing about the 5 exhibitions I’ve just been to. We were only told to write about 2 but I took pictures of them all so they would be a waste if I didn’t explain everything.
The Vulgar – Fashion Redefined.
Vulgarity exposes the scandal of good taste.
Basically a show about how the vulgar is fashion and fashion is vulgar in every sense and term the word could possibly mean. It was a very large exhibition, one you could easily go back to see and will have missed one thing or another. Unfortunately there was to be no photographs taken, so I drew some of the Vulgar pieces I liked most.
Take this piece by John Gallian for Dior SS2003, the vulgarity is in the oversized coat and ruffles that do nothing to enhance the figure; yet something about the ensemble screams of class, affluence, excess and fun. Plus is was designed by a man in high places for a highly placed brand, therefore it must be in good taste to wear an ensemble such as this.
The outstanding theme was that taste is the very definition of vulgar. Saying whosoever can define “Good taste” has the right to condemn another to vulgarity. However, I believe, Adam Phillips goes further suggesting that The Vulgar can be celebrated within Good taste. Through the exhibit The Vulgar is described as something popular, copied, kitsch, made for general consumption, in short, anything that the lowly public can get their little, grubby, mass-produced hands on. Whilst understanding the only reason we do this is out of admiration, to be more like the upper class. So by the upper class dictating “Good taste” thus creating the vulgar that becomes high fashion. That’s why designers love vulgarity for if it wasn’t for the vulgar you wouldn’t have fashion.
Take Moschino for example; one of Jeremy Scott’s designs was in the exhibition because as a designer he takes inspiration from mass production and places it in his designs in a very kitsch style. However, his designs, though kitsch and mass-produced, are worn by the rich, then copied by super chains like Primark. 100% vulgar. 100% en Vogue. Literally.
Even though I loved the exhibition, what interested me was the gift shop in the Barbican. All the merchandise had pink tones despite there not being many pink garments displayed in the exhibition itself, and the advertisements for the show are red. This really puzzled me. Why have a gift shop that doesn’t reflect the gallery? Then I thought about it, paused, got tired, checked my insta feed, then thought about it some more. ‘Till it occurred to me that perhaps they were making a future statement about the current Vulgar. The current theme that popped up in this years SS2017 shows in LFW last September was PINK. All shades of pink, hints of pink, on their own and mixed together. Have the Barbican been really clever and spotted the micro trends from SS2017 that will soon become macro and vulgar, to prove the point of the exhibition? Or did they simply just think, it’s about fashion, that’s like girls stuff n pink pretty drawings? I hope it’s the former.
I absolutely loved the exhibition and I definitely feel like I learned lots about the fashion cycle and the relationship it has with the class system. A well curated, informative exhibition that beautifully uses the space given. Easy to follow but you will want a good few hours to look around and soak it all up; your ticket lasts the day so it is worth going mid morning and breaking for lunch, to return once your brain has had a rest. Then you can buy some not-so-vulgar, vulgar pencils!