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What on earth would a Calvin Klein dress made from recycled plastic bottles look like? Why would anyone use the head of a bird to make an earring? Can you really make clothes from the roots of plants? All of these questions are answered at the Victoria and Albert Museum’s exhibition, Fashioned from Nature (21 April - 27 January 2019), which exposes the industry’s wasteful tendencies while highlighting solutions.
Covering 400 years of fashion, this ambitious show demonstrates how clothes have charted the development of human civilisation. During the 19th century, for example, it became popular to craft jewellery from honeycreepers. Native to Hawaii, these beautiful songbirds were hunted and processed for their heads, each removed to become the main part of an earring. Every problem needs a solution, and Fashioned by Nature has plenty. Designer Katharine Hamnett gave the clearest answer in 1989: her collection Clean Up or Die is on display. Previously known for working with fur and pioneering the environmentally destructive stonewash process, Hamnett created Clean Up or Die to signal her greener path.
Dame Vivienne Westwood has long challenged the establishment as a punk figurehead and at fracking protests, so the V&A’s decision to display one of her protest outfits underscores the political side of the exhibition. These are joined by posters and artwork depicting the harmful side of fashion. Westwood once said: ‘Whoever goes to art galleries and reads is a freedom fighter for a better world.’ Take part in that fight at the V&A – you can’t argue with a Dame.
From 12 May: The Future Starts Here
Discover the innovations which are all aiming to change our worlds in the not-too-distant future.
To 4th November: Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up
Celebrating the late Mexican artist's highly styled life
To 25th November: Jameel Prize
Displaying the work of eight artists and designers, all inspired by Islamic Culture.
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