With summer days nigh, no doubt you’re making plans for (much needed) weekend getaways. Should you find yourself in the mood for some culture and costume, a pentalogy of fashion exhibitions are being staged around the world, from a decade of Azzedine Alaïa designs to a century of dandyism — and, oh yes, a little thing called punk.
Fashion’s biggest and glitziest show of the year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's PUNK: Chaos to Couture, may also be the the year's ballsiest. Punk and pomp are about as harmonious as oil and water, and the Met’s mainstreamed take on the former has drawn a lot of ire, as did its kickoff event - the Met Gala. But, if you'll be in New York, Chaos to Couture is absolutely worth a visit – even if soft-core doesn’t suit your rebellious fancy.
Until August 14
Boys take note: the RISD Museum, a satellite of the Rhode Island School of Design, has a summer-long show titled Artist/Rebel/Dandy: Men of Fashion. Bringing pompadours to Providence, Artist/Rebel/Dandy features an array of works and words regarding the evolution of men’s fashion – including such “romantics and revolutionaries” of today as Rick Owens and Waris Ahluwalia. Fans of nostalgia needn’t worry – there’s also an archival focus on Beau Brummell, an original dandy if you will, and Oscar Wilde.
Until August 18
Celebrating Chanel’s longstanding links with the art world, Paris’ Palais de Tokyo just unveiled No. 5 Culture Chanel, a capsule exhibit illustrating the perfume’s iconic, decades-old presence and the avant-garde movements with which it has been associated. Though representations of Chanel No. 5 have indeed been created (paging Andy Warhol), the works on display are not necessarily direct portrayals of the bottle. Rather, the show includes material that fueled Coco Chanel’s singular vision, with pieces from Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky, and Pierre Reverdy, to name but a few.
Until June 5
Dusseldorf’s NRW-FORUM will open Azzedine Alaïa in the 21st Century, with perhaps the smartest homage to the famed Tunisian designer yet: the show is broken down by material. Azzedine Alaïa is revered, coveted and collected for his use of the highest-grade textiles on the market, from wispy astrakhan to supple alligator to cotton-candy chiffons. Take all that and apply it to ten years worth of design, and what you get is nothing short of delicious.
June 8 - September 8
The Seattle Art Museum will soon present Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion. The retrospective will highlight everything from Issey Miyake and Kenzo Takada’s rise to fame in the 1970s – moments that galvanized global reverence for the island-nation's design sensibilities – to Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto’s Paris-silencing runway shows of 1983. More recent sartorial phenomena are also included: Harajuku girls, Takashi Murakami for Louis Vuitton, and all things kawaii. Curated by the Kyoto Costume Institute, Future Beauty ultimately celebrates a counterproposal to Western fashion ideologies.
June 27 - September 8