Small Island, Big Talent



March 31 marked the launch of the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum’s hotly anticipated “British Design 1948-2012: Innovation in the Modern Age” exhibit, a showcase of design triumphs spanning the worlds of art, architecture, interiors, and, yes, fashion.
Celebrating the best of British post-war art and design from the 1948 ‘Austerity Games’ to the summer of 2012. Over 300 British design objects highlight significant moments in the history of British design and how the country continues to nurture artistic talent and be a world leader in creativity and design.

From spring 2012 the V&A celebrates the opening of the newly renovated Fashion Galleries with an exhibition of beautiful ballgowns, red carpet evening dresses and catwalk showstoppers. Displayed over two floors, ‘Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950’ will feature more than sixty designs for social events such as private parties, royal balls, state occasions and opening nights. The exhibition will cover over sixty years of a strong British design tradition that continues to flourish. Eveningwear from the V&A’s vast collection, by designers including Victor Stiebel, Zandra Rhodes, Jonathan Saunders and Hussein Chalayan, will be on show alongside dresses fresh from the catwalk shows of Alexander McQueen, Giles Deacon, Erdem and Jenny Packham.

Alexander McQueen,AW 2009
Horn of Plenty collection.


A dress made of LED lights from the autumn/winter 2007 Hussein Chalayan collection.


Silk Organza orchid hat by Philip Treacy

A selection of royal ballgowns will be on display, including a Norman Hartnell gown designed for Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Princess Diana’s ‘Elvis Dress’ designed by Catherine Walker and gowns worn by today’s young royals. Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950 will also include dresses worn by actresses and celebrities including Elizabeth Hurley, Bianca Jagger and Sandra Bullock, and a stunning metallic leather dress created especially for the exhibition by innovative designer Gareth Pugh.
From Mary Quant’s iconic minidresses and ankle boots offering a glimpse of ’60s-era Swinging London, while a tattered “Anarchy in the U.K.” T-shirt designed by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren and worn by Sex Pistols rocker Johnny Rotten is a souvenir from the punk period of the late ’70s.

Running until August 12, the exhibit also includes more modern pieces like Hussein Chalayan’s LED dress for Swarovski from 2007, as well as textiles from the likes of Laura Ashley and Zandra Rhodes.


Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown designed by Norman Hartnell


Princess Diana’s ‘Elvis Dress’ designed by Catherine Walker


Highstreet shoppers in Mary Quant’s exhibitionist mini skirt


Anarchy in the UK T-shirt, by Vivienne Westwood & Malcolm McLaren, 1977-8, worn and altered by Johnny Rotten.


Coat designed by Alexander McQueen, Courtesy of David Bowie

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