The Barbican gallery has foretold a new exhibition for the autumn dedicated to vulgarity in fashion from the renascence to the present day.
The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined was conceived by exhibition maker Judith Clark and psychoanalyst Adam Phillips. It investigates how ideas of vulgarity have changed and evolved, from ultimate 18th-century corsets to the modern trend for oversized logos.
The exhibit will include 18th-century mantuas, with overskirts of hardly 2.5 metres in width, and stomachers, the panel of embroidery haggard over corsets. These will be contrasted with sundry modern items, such as Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s “tits” T-shirt significance direction a photograph of naked breasts, and oversized hats from the milliner Stephen Jones.
It also reconnoitres what good taste is at any given moment, which is expressly relevant now that high fashion brands such as Vetements, Moschino and Gucci in the garish and downright tacky. Vetements’ signature piece is a T-shirt with DHL typing, hardly the expected aspirational logo.
Work by designers encompassing Elsa Schiaparelli, Jean Paul Gaultier, Miuccia Prada, Raf Simons and Marc Jacobs when one pleases show how these ideas have a backstory, with commentary lay down in the form of quotes from Jonathan Swift, Coco Chanel, Diana Vreeland and Samuel Johnson.
Jane Alison, move of visual arts at the Barbican, praised the curators for creating “a much original, redefining and hugely enjoyable exhibition about model past and present”.
She said it followed on from previous Barbican style exhibitions including Jam: Style+Music+Media in 1996, The Dynasty of Viktor & Rolf in 2008, and Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Form in 2010.