Tag Archives: Fashion

A Xmas Gift Guide for Art Lovers

It’s that time of year again when we voluntarily expose ourselves to the self-inflicted torture that is Christmas shopping. Less than a month before the big holiday most of us turn into reckless warriors, the high streets our battle fields, where we fight the equally merciless and desperate fight for buying presents. This year will be different. This time around we will manage to complete our gift shopping in time. We will not have to go out on Christmas day to buy just about ANYTHING to please our greedy relatives and our guilty conscience. At least this is what we tell ourselves the moment we shove our elbows into that one person blocking our way to the bargain bin.

I have to admit, I am the worst when it comes to Christmas gift shopping. The anxiety inducing thoughts of the Christmas highstreet battle ground have kept me from going out and getting presents many times. Thank goodness for online shopping, invention of the last-minute gods, and friends and family who kindly agreed to ‘just give love’ those years. However, this year I vowed to be better at gift shopping and giving. Still not ready to face the crowds, my new strategy is online-shopping with a plan!

Doing my gift-research, I have compiled for you art-lovers out there an art-themed gift guide. Wether it is for your hip and artsy friends or to secretly impose your love of art onto your art-ignorant relatives, there is something for everyone (and every wallet-size) in this list.

Andy Warhol and Pop Art inspired gifts:

1. Heattech Fleece Polo Neck, Uniqlo, £7.90 for her and £12.90 for him
2. Andy Warhol Journals – Set of 3, via the Tate Shop, £12
3. Interview Magazine Subscription (12 months), £72
4. Rimmel London Pop Art Nail Polish, via Superdrug, £3.99
5. Central Saint Martins Cut-out Bracelets and Earings, Topshop, £8
6. Ribbed Funnel Neck Top, Topshop, £15


William Morris inspired gifts:

1. Needle amd Thread Floral Embelished Dress, through Harrods, £185
2. William Morris Paperblanks Planner, via WHSmith, £11.99
3. Tickets to Anarchy and Beauty: William Morris and his Legacy at the National Portrait Gallery, £14
4.  Konplott Ich-und-Du Flower Necklace, £155.50
5. H&M Lace Bra and Briefs, £7.99 and £5.99


Pussy Riot inspired gifts:

1. H&M Sleeveless Dress, £29.99
2. American Apparel Beanie, via asos, £13.90
3. Tatty Devine Russian Floral Statement Necklace, £150
4. “Art & Agenda: Political Art and Activism” Coffe table book, £40
5. Paint Your Own Baboushka Kit, via asos, £9


The Glamour of Italian Fashion at the V&A – Exhibition Review

After a long hiatus from blogging, a year and a Master’s degree later, I am slowly settling into ‘real life,’ i.e. a full-time job. After a couple of interesting internships, I was lucky to snatch a great opportunity.

Gianfranco Ferre advert, Fall Winter 1991, (c) Gian Paolo Barberi


As part of my job, I attended the press view for the new exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum The Glamour of Italian Fashion.’ Without further ado, please find my review of the exhibition below (admittedly more a collection of my thoughts on the show) .

Maria Grimaldi, Evening Ensemble, 1950s
Maria Grimaldi, Evening Ensemble, 1950s

The exhibition is sponsored by Italian Fashion brand Bulgari, a fact that can’t be missed, as the visitor is informed of this through a highly visible branding on the wall opposite the entrance. My feelings about this corporate sponsorship are twofold – on the one hand, it attains to the increasing entanglement between the cultural and the consumer world (the latter is where the money is, isn’t it?). On the other hand, it is ultimately emblematic of the ‘glamour’ of fashion. This is, after all, a world of luxury and abundance, a ‘see and be seen’ display of wealth and beauty.

Two models in dresses designed by Jole Veneziani, 1956, Courtesy The Art Archive, Mondadori Portfolio, Electa
Two models in dresses designed by Jole Veneziani, 1956, Courtesy The Art Archive, Mondadori Portfolio, Electa

Keeping this in mind, I entered the exhibition, ready to suspend my disbelief in the necessity of glamour and prepared to be blown away by all its exuberance. Maybe this mindset was the reason why the exhibition eventually left me the slightest bit dissatisfied? Don’t get me wrong, the dresses and their presentation are beautiful!

The exhibition is arranged chronologically. The first room presents the beginning of the Italian fashion industry starting with the post-World War II establishment of the Sala Bianca, a fashion show and brand headed by Giovan Battista Giorgini in the 1950’s and still operating today. The evening gowns of the 1950’s and 60’s are stunning and I found myself staring at some of them for ages, having this indescribable feeling of experiencing something sublime.

Jumpsuit, 1981,Krizia, (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Jumpsuit, 1981,Krizia, (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Maybe this is the very problem, not only of the exhibition at the V&A, but more so of Italian fashion as such – moving along, the next rooms outline the history of the Italian dressmaker, the fashion of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Great brands of the time, such as Emilio Pucci, Valentino Couture and Elio Fiorucci are introduced, but the styles never really change. The next room is decorated with a canopy of flowing white fabric and a catwalk that presents the Italian dress creations of the present. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had encountered all this before, and that the highlight of the show for me really had been the ‘Red Dress with Flaring Waist Panels’ designed by Germana Maruceli in 1950, that I had seen in the first room.

Red Dress with Flaring Waist Panels,'Germana Maruceli, 1950
Red Dress with Flaring Waist Panels, Germana Maruceli, 1950 (for the lack of a photograph my sketch will have to do)

As a result, I couldn’t help but feel that there is a slight stuffiness about the Italian fashion of the famous brands displayed. This aspect is reflected by the V&A’s focus on history and chronological build-up. The dresses themselves are visually stunning and beautiful to look at and the exhibition comes as a great historical insight into what once must have been incredibly glamorous. However, one does sense a thin layer of dust settling on this very glamour.

Giambattista Valli Haute Couture Fall-Winter 2013-2014
Giambattista Valli Haute Couture Fall-Winter 2013-2014

The last room shows a film dedicated to the future. One of the interviewees alludes to what seems to be one of the reasons why Italian fashion has remained inherently conservative, while more innovative styles are presently created in Paris, New York, London and Berlin. He points out that several of the established brands are headed by patriarchs in their 70s who do not want to give up their position to fresher minds.

FENDI mink coat sketch by Karl Lagerfeld, Fall/Winter 2000
FENDI mink coat sketch by Karl Lagerfeld, Fall/Winter 2000

In this context, for me the title of the exhibition speaks of a certain nostalgia, and seems reminiscent of the brighter days of this industry. Nevertheless, the V&A did succeed in selecting the most astonishing relics of the Italian fashion’s history and united them to a most beautiful display that is well worth seeing.

The Glamour of Italian Fashion, 1945-2014
5 April – 27 July 2014 at the Victoria and Albert Museum
Saturday to Thursday 10.00 – 17.45 and until 22.00 every Friday
Tickets £12 (concessions available)