Fashion Exhibitionism

If you define exhibitionism as exposing those things often hidden or kept to oneself then this summer might just be the time to take advantage of unlocked treasures and see three fashion exhibitions. They are the perfect reason for a summer car trip.

The first is brought to us by our friends at the Fashion History Museum and in partnership with the Waterloo Region Museum. The exhibition blends the two institutions perfectly as Street Style “explores the connections between the design of women’s fashion and architecture.”  The exhibit presents fashion and the architecture of Waterloo county from 1853 to 1973.

There are forty garments from the Fashion History Museum situated in streetscapes of some of the best examples of urban architecture from Waterloo County.

The exhibit opened on June 14th and will close January 4, 2015.  Open daily 9:30 to 5:00 the Waterloo Region Museum is located at 10 Huron Road, Kitchener.

Farther afield is the Charles James: Beyond Fashion which opened May 8th at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  A little longer trip if by car but just an hour away by plane, this is a must see for all lovers of haute couture.  James was considered the American couturier and created gowns worn by some of the most influential women of the 1950s.  The study of a James’ gowns reveals his obsession with the mathematical and structural science of fashion.  He created clothing that seemed capable of not only supporting the wearer figuratively but literally.

This exhibit also marks the opening of the newly renovated Costume Institute.  The display not only provides access to sixty-five of the designer’s most famous gowns including “Clover Leaf,” “Butterfly,” “Tree,” and “Swan” but also an exploration of his design process.

The exhibition will close August 10th.


Image from MET Museum


Images by Karin L. Willis, the photographer for the Charles James: Beyond Fashion Catalogue

And in Toronto, The Bata Shoe Museum’s latest exhibition Fashion Victims opened June 18th.  The exhibit looks at Victorian Fashion from the perspective of not only the wearer of fashion but of those who worked tirelessly behind the scenes creating the items the fashionably dressed men and women of the 19th century wore.


Image from Bata Shoe Museum

While the constriction of the corset is one of the first garments that critics of 19th century fashion will target as making victims of the women who wore this status symbol little attention is paid to the materials used in the production of fashion.  This exhibit explores how highly dangerous materials were used in the production of fashion and were then reflected in the literature of the day with such iconoclastic characters as the Mad Hatter.


The Mad Hatter as depicted by Sir John Tenniel. Image from Wikimedia Commons.


Peter Cook portraying The Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland (1966). Image from 

If you head downtown or out of town please drop us a line and let us know which of the exhibitions are your favourite!


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