Fashion Redefined

The Vulgar Fashion Redefined at The Barbican | 13th – 5th Feb 2017

A day filled with inspiration visiting the wonderful Barbican Centre. Every past experience at the Barbican has been an experience. I travelled with my two studio peers Clelia & Vestina. The Vulgar Exhibition was a huge space filled with manakins wearing beautifully tailored garments from different times which had been designed by some of today’s biggest names in fashion design. The walls stood high creating the original exhibition feel, footsteps echoed and quiet voices would float through each room. 

Translating The Vulgar

Nymphs, The Fortunate Fall, Classic Copies, Once and For All.

Adam Phillips seemed to be the biggest narrator of the Exhibition quoting information throughout the exhibit. Each section of the exhibit contained introduction paragraphs which were written on the walls in small white type. Plaques also stood in each section of the exhibition, the detailed carved image which stood in the centre of the plaque represented each section of the exhibit and a half rounded quote curved around the top part of the plaque quoting different definitions of the meanings of Vulgar

‘The Vulgar exposes through imitation’ – Adam Phillip 

All the manakins stood in glass cases expressing just how important and extravagant these design pieces are. The first garment that caught my eye was a design piece by Pam Hogg, ‘Dress’ from The Divine Delinquent collection. A stunning gold catsuit which wraps around the entire body. From my point of view the viewer may feel confident studying this design peice. The floaty material creates an outfit fit for everybody. The outfit is pulled tight under the chest area creating waves in the material helping to sculpt the womanly sculpture. This is a truly confident piece.


Pam Hogg’s Dress “Devine Delinquent” Collection, Hogg Culture | Autumn&Winter 2016 – 2017

Unfortunately, no photography was prohibited, all photographs I have included in this blog post has been taken form internet sources.

The second garment that caught my eye was a simplistic design piece by Yves Saint Laurent. One and For All, A classical 1965 cocktail dress from the Mondrian Collection inspired by Artist Mondrian’s artistry. This dress was given to the V&A Museum by the designer. I was drawn in by the different designs by Yves Saint Laurent, all different but similar. The black and white with splashes of colour complimented each other well. The viewer would feel strong, independent and classy when looking at this garment. This could be worn for a formal or casual occasion being a multi purpose dress also produces a lot of power. 


Yves Saint Laurent. cocktail dress from the Mondrian Collection 1965 | Inspired by Artist Mondrian’s artistry.

Showing Off

The next section of the Exhibition was called Showing Off. A section filled with extravagant, over the top, dressy garments. Majority of these were also places in big glass cases unable to touch. Majority of the design piece were from the 18th – 20th century. The 18th century is the age where machinery and technology tended to take over producing clothing and other products fast paced and maximising sales. There were a lot more luxury goods available than ever before also known as the notorious age of excess. A quote marked the wall below the introduction paragraph stating how within the 18th century we were “Being enslaved to pleasure” Samuel Johnson This being a sign of privilege. Things and people were valued due to their rarity and exclusiveness. Fashion was for fashionable, the people of good society. This has to be one of my favourite sections of the exhibition, exploring the huge changes through culture and the world of rarity. 

One of my favourite dresses from this section was designed by the one and only Vivienne Westwood called Watteau evening dress with glove from her Les Femmes Spring | Summer Collection 1996. A royal design piece fit for a princess. A functional, fundamental and contemporary design piece. The viewer in my opinion would feel some what inspired by this colourful materials which stand perfectly, creating delicate curved pleats. The flowers create a flamboyant look helping whoever wearing the garment to stand tall and confident. 


Vivienne Westwood | Watteau evening dress with glove from her Les Femmes Spring | Summer Collection 1996.

The New Baroque: Extreme Bodies

The upstairs area was filled with more amazing styles and designs. One of my ultimate favourite dresses being a beautiful dress by Iris Van Harpen from his 2016-17 collection Lucid. The title of the collection was most definitely linked to lucid dreams and how they could make one feel. A Lucid dream is a moment in which a dreamer is conscious and is very much able to be partly in control of the moment. 

To a viewer this piece could be designed for or by a nature lover. This piece very much reminds me of beautiful sprouted Lily’s. I also feel the ways in which the dress sits is very much like a waterfall on rewind, the flow of water moving backwards. Looking closely at the pattern of the dress this could also be recognised as feathers, wings and/or the shape of spiritual symbols. In my opinion this is by far the best dress I had seen at the exhibit.


Dress, Iris Van Harpen | 2016-17 Lucid collection.

More Inspirations

Agent Provocateur | Gold piece with coin like features. Varverra playsuit, Spring|Summer 2015 Collection. 

Pam Hogg | Bodysuit. Future, Past, War & Peace Collection. Spring|Summer 2015 Collection.

Pam Hogg | Ensemble and Headdress. Far From The Madding Crowd Collection. Autumn|Winter 2011 – 2012.

John Galliano for Christian Dior | Dress Autumn|Winter Haute Collection 2004-2005.

Viktor and Rolf | Too Big, Emma Ensemble. Van Goth Girls Collection. Spring|Summer 2015 Haute Collection.

Before leaving the Exhibit I noticed some more important wall signage acknowledging the people involved in creating the exhibition. From team members to designers, head of visual arts and Lenders, this was a nice way of praising the contributors. I feel this was a really nice touch point. 


After exploring the exhibit I came to the realisation that every section of the exhibition touch pointed on different facts, classes and cultures. Design works in the most extraordinary ways.

Exploring all parts of the exhibition and reading the meanings of each had opened my mind to some new ideas for my cafe for the future brief. I also found some similarities in how I would like my establishment to work. These are just a few ideas of how I have been thinking maybe my cafe could have an impact. Containing a variety of cultures through food, design and events. Helping creatives to come together and be promoted through the cultures in which they follow. Also maybe introduce some sort of timeline function through the decor of the cafe helping to teach people about history and culture creating a space for equality and a new welcoming community. Bringing people together. Rarity was such a huge touchpoint at the exhibition which made me think about maybe touch pointing on this area throughout this project. 

As I have already highlighted this is just one of my ideas, I am going to research a little more to help surface some different ideas for this project as I am not looking to settle for one idea so early on in the project. 


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