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Fashion Together review

September 27, 2017

Fashion Together is an exhibition about the partnerships in fashion.

I always look forward to Fashion Space Gallery’s exhibitions – though it is only one room in UAL’s building off Oxford Street, I’ve found that small space has been interestingly, intelligently curated, with exhibits that drive you to see what’s round the next corner.

Silver and Porcupine Quill Ear Cuffs, Shaun Leane for Alexander McQueen, Irere, Spring/Summer 2003. Courtesy of the Shaun Leane archive.

Silver and Porcupine Quill Ear Cuffs, Shaun Leane for Alexander McQueen, Irere, Spring/Summer 2003. Courtesy of the Shaun Leane archive.

 

Michèle Lamy and Rick Owens, Alchemy chair, bronze and leather, 2012 Courtesy of Owenscorp.

Michèle Lamy and Rick Owens, Alchemy chair, bronze and leather, 2012 Courtesy of Owenscorp.

Fashion Together – Lasting Partnerships

Curator of Fashion Together Lou Stoppard says: ’I’m interested in lasting partnerships – the formative, friendships, the unions that exist behind the scenes or the decades-long working relationships that have shaped each participant’s vision and life. These relationships are common across the industry, but their complexity has been under- analysed. How is credit shared? How is work divided? Is jealousy or ownership an issue? Is there a recipe for success?’

Many hands make good work

It’s a really interesting point. I was excited to see Fashion Together , because even when viewing the absolutely stunning and deservedly smash hit V&A show on Alexander McQueen, I had mused, not only on his genius, but the clear genius of the makers that brought these pieces to life – Philip Treacy the milliner with his peerless brand of drama and Sean Leane the jeweller with metal corsets and sometimes-cruel jewellery are two, but also the hands of the many, many talented workers in his studio that put the hours in for these beautiful creations.

And, sure enough, here are Alexander McQueen and Shaun Leane, as one partnership. Also Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, Gareth Pugh and Ruth Hogben, Nick Night and Daphne Guinness, Rick Owens and Michele Lamy Thom Browne and Stephen Jones and Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin.

A skeletal exhibition

Michèle Lamy and Rick Owens, Alchemy chair, bronze and leather, 2012 Courtesy of Owenscorp.

Michèle Lamy and Rick Owens, Alchemy chair, bronze and leather, 2012 Courtesy of Owenscorp.

 

Viktor and Rolf, ‘NO’ Coat, Autumn/Winter 2008; photography Team Peter Stigter.

Viktor and Rolf, ‘NO’ Coat, Autumn/Winter 2008; photography Team Peter Stigter.

 

I think I had expected more of the behind the scenes, unknown contributors than this. I mean, not only McQueen and Lean but Viktor & Rolf? Their partnership is all too obvious. Stephen Jones is a very well-known milliner in his own right. And apologies, but I don’t know Inez van Lamsweerde or Vinoodh Matadin at all.

Perhaps I’m being too rigid and it doesn’t have to be the unknown inspiration behind a great name. But the exhibition itself doesn’t do much to illuminate these working partnerships. Objects-wise, it’s skeletal. One chair and a blurry recording represent Owens and Lamy. One coat, sketches of the design, plus quotes form the Viktor&Rolf segment. And so on.

McQueen and Leane

Backstage at the Alexander McQueen ‘Black’ show, June 2004. Aluminium Coiled Corset by Shaun Leane for Alexander McQueen, The Overlook, Autumn/Winter 1999. Courtesy of the Shaun Leane archive.

Backstage at the Alexander McQueen ‘Black’ show, June 2004. Aluminium Coiled Corset by Shaun Leane for Alexander McQueen, The Overlook, Autumn/Winter 1999.
Courtesy of the Shaun Leane archive.

 

Only the McQueen and Leane section is a little fuller, with snapshots, two headpieces, a Nick Night portrait of Bjork and McQueen’s own toile for a jewellery idea presented like a holy relic. I think if you’re a McQueen uber-fan this little display might give you a little frisson.

As always it’s nice to get up close and personal with a few catwalk creations. Both the Victor &Rold garment and the ones by Thom Brown are satisfyingly intricately made, and the Shaun Leane headpieces too – you can see how carefully constructed they are, and how they are supported on the model’s heads.

The design is very stark, with white walls, no special lighting and no internal walls or stands, but I’ll concede that the floor vinyls are nicely done. It does feel a bit budget compared with previous exhibitions, though.

Nick Knight and Daphne Guinness, 3D printed scans featuring Rick Owens, 2012. Courtesy of SHOWstudio

Nick Knight and Daphne Guinness, 3D printed scans featuring Rick Owens, 2012. Courtesy of SHOWstudio.

 

Along with the clothes there is a good mixture of multimedia – Ruth Hogben’s videos for Gareth Pugh, plus Nick Knight’s work with Daphne Guinness.

But spot the link – Lou Stoppard, the curator, is SHOWstudio’s editor-at-large. SHOWstudio is Nick Night’s project, and nearly every single exhibit mentions him. He has clearly been generous with his resources, but maybe the exhibition should have been re-named the Nick Knight show?

Well, never mind. The exhibition is actually to support Stoppard’s book of the same name, which contains interviews exploring the concept in a little more depth.

But overall, this feels like a university lecture on the value of creative collaborations made manifest – one for the students, perhaps.

Fashion Together is at the Fashion Space Gallery from Friday 8 September – Saturday 13 January 2018.

 

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