Sunday, 30 November 2008

Exhibition: Cold War Modern at the V&A

Until 11th January 2009 there's an excellent exhibition of Cold War era design from 1945-1970 on at the V&A in London, which covers everything from furniture, to architecture, to propaganda posters and films (in 1959, to boost understanding between Russia and the USA, a Russia expo was held in America and vice versa - predictably both sides used it as a propaganda exercise to boast of their supposed technological advancement and high living standards, with the Americans even providing actors to live in the mock-up American home and to demonstrate to the Russian visitors US customs like a weekend family barbecue and a fancy white wedding) to fashion.

All this seems rather extraordinary now, almost as extraordinary as some of the high fashion from the period which is on display. The implied subtext of a lot of the design is that designers were subconsciously or otherwise craving comforting, protective design in a harsh political environment (hence the plastic 'cocoon' bubble chairs and the like), but you don't have to worry about this sort of (often dubious) assessment too much to enjoy Paco Rabanne's reflective disc dress from 1967 (top) or Pierre Cardin's 'Cosmos outfits' from 1967 (below), which is where the inspiration for a lot of the now standard sci-fi movie outfits first came from.

There's some other 60s fashion on display too, which is well worth seeing, like the dress below by British designer Stephen Willats, made of PVC sheets zipped together, and some other stuff which we couldn't get pictures of including some super-rad 'concept' clothing by Dutch jewellers Gijs Bakker and Emmy van Leersum (and you thought it was hard to remember how to spell Ann Demeulemeester..!) including an aluminium collar and some silhouette-distorting bodysuits, and some high fashion plastic chemical protection suits.

More information, including prices, opening times etc., here.
The Fashion v Sport streetwear exhibition, which we reported on in October (here), is also still on at the V&A, until 4th Jan 2009.

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