It’s the Jubilee weekend and I’ve made cake. Lemon sponge, blackcurrant jam, lemon buttercream. I’m feeling patriotic and a little emotional (the Queen does indeed look like my Great Aunt Jane, long dead but still thought-of, often).
So, in pursuit of things British and glorious I went to see the exhibition, ‘Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950’ at the Victoria and Albert. I was looking forward to seeing the newly opened costume gallery and was expecting great things from it and I feel underwhelmed: I think that an opportunity for something jaw-droppingly good has been missed. The gallery is still squashed into a corner. Still, I feel, a bit of an afterthought, a bit of an embarrassment.
Fashion. Decried as frivolous and not for the serious-minded yet of great economic importance: designers, factory owners, dyers, embroiderers, academics, pattern cutters, journalists, textile designers, milliners, shop workers, machinists, photographers, advertisers, publishers….I think you get the message. It’s a big employer. And London, quirky though it might be in terms of fashion identity, is a major player in the fashion world and I think it, or rather we, could expect a little more pomp from our national collection.
The exhibition dresses from 2000 demonstrate that we have considerable design talent but I’d like to have seen more of it: 20 or so exhibits of recent work was just not enough and certainly only one McQueen and one Galliano was a paltry offering. I have the much coveted exhibition catalogue of the Alexander McQueen exhibition ‘Savage Beauty’ held at the Metropolitan Museum in New York last year. It alone gives me goose bumps, let alone seeing such a vast collection of work. That exhibition was huge, in scale and importance, as though the curators were utterly assured of the seriousness and influence of the fashion industry.
I can’t help but compare….
(Thanks to the Hub for the photograph of the cake…he’s got a good eye…)