Thursday, 2 January 2014

Selling Dreams: 100 Years of Fashion Photography Exhibition

Direct from the V&A Museum in London comes Selling Dreams: 100 Years of Fashion Photography. The exhibition runs until 28 February 2014 at Auckland War Memorial Museum. Entry is a very reasonable $8 for adults (weekdays) and $10 weekends.

Paul and I went a couple of days ago and we loved it. The photographs range from the Edwardian era right up to the present day and showcase the work of both male and female photographers. What struck me the most was how the images reflected the social changes happening both in the lives of women and in society in general. The fluid shapes of the 1910s and 1920s showcased the freedom women were experiencing, as corsets were no longer required. The decadence of the twenties and early thirties gave way to simpler, more austere cuts of the late 1930s and 1940s as The Depression and World War II took their toll. Still, fashion managed to make a statement even during the 'make do and mend' years.

The late 1940s and early 1950s saw the introduction of Dior's 'New Look' with nipped-in waists and full skirts. The models and poses of the fifties up to the mid sixties (I thought) were demure and obedient. But here comes the late sixties, with models posed in more defiant, stronger stances indicating an emerging strength in the women's movement and the growing self-confidence of individual women.

Images from the 1970s showed models with athletic bodies, much more skin on show and an increase in the use of sexuality and sexual themes. Photos from the 1980s were limited to the 1981 - 1984 period (I was pleased as the early eighties is my favourite fashion age along with the 1920s). Here, the masculine forms start to emerge in women's fashion (double-breasted coats, short hair, suits and flat shoes).

Fast-forward to the nineties and the present day and we see more androgynous images and clothes; the social and gender boundaries further challenged.

I highly recommend this exhibition to both photography and fashion lovers!

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