Wednesday, 23 May 2012



There's a black taffeta ballgown hanging in my wardrobe as a tragic reminder that in some dim and distant past I had a 22in waist ...
So, of course, I couldn't wait to see the V&A's Ballgowns exhibition. And I'm not saying that I didn't enjoy it.
But I did think that the V&A haven't exactly pushed the boat out for the re-opening of their fashion galleries. Because this has none of the gasp-ooh-aah-sigh-isn't-it-gorgeous quality of their Golden Age of Couture exhibition a few years ago, or those two stunning exhibitions of hats and tiaras.
Maybe it's because this exhibition is subtitled British Glamour since 1950 ...
Well, I'm fine with the Fifties. But after that it's more like British Glamour: Its Last Gasp.
What came across loud and clear is that real glamour no longer exists, It's just showbizzy bling on the red carpet ... and on the stroke of midnight your borrowed frock goes back to the designer.
What's glamorous about a tinfoil dress that would make even the most beautiful woman look like a 20lb turkey trussed for the oven. Accessorised with what ... sage and onion?
I was also taken aback by the hideousness of the mannequins, with their distractingly dislocated hips and shoulders, like something out of C&A's window in 1972.
But how I've missed the fashion galleries which seem to have been closed forever. And if you leave the exhibition (which is £10 to get in) and walk around the permanent collection (which is free), there's all the  ooh-aah glamour you could desire. Mainbocher crêpe-de-Chine, cut on the bias? A Poiret evening coat from the 1920s? Or my favourite spotty Lanvin cocktail dress with a neat little bustle?
Although I also love a natty little 1920s tennis dress that might have been worn by a character from Angela Thirkell.

4 comments:

penandpencilgirls said...

22 inch waist - even if you were a younger woman - wow! I'm excited about seeing the exhibition, but especially the permanent collection as well. I always feel a bit cheated as I've never owned or needed a ballgown - also wanted some of those beautiful long gloves. So agree about the unattractiveness of some modern designer ballgowns. There were some hideous outfits recently on red carpets which made even the prettiest of women look ugly!

mary said...

I always longed for the gloves. I bought some cheap ones but they didn't look right and I never wore them.

Toffeeapple said...

Ah, Lanvin and Schiapparelli and Courrége, such beauty they created. Thank you for reminding me.

mary said...

So much classier than anything today, Toffeeapple. V&A fashion is irresistible; quite good, in a way, that it's been closed because it has made me visit other parts of the museum.