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Peek backstage into the world of fashion with V&A Dundee

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The free exhibition, The Fashion Show: Everything But The Clothes, has officially opened in the V&A Dundee. Here’s everything you need to know

Model Helena Christensen and designer Dame Vivienne Westwood backstage. Photo courtesy of Iain R Webb

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of a fashion show? We always get to see the glamorous side as the models sashay down the catwalk, but most of us miss out on the backstage goings-on and the events leading up to it. All of that changes with the opening of a new free exhibition that sneaks a glance behind the curtain: The Fashion Show: Everything But The Clothes, at V&A Dundee.

Curated in collaboration with the V&A Dundee by Iain R Webb, Professor of Fashion & Design at Kingston School of Art, The Fashion Show: Everything But The Clothes deconstructs and demystifies the exclusive world of international fashion by providing access to previously unavailable and unseen objects.

Exploring the fashion show beyond the catwalk, The Fashion Show: Everything But The Clothes shows how a stylish world is born, from idea conception straight to the end result of the show. The focus is not the clothing, but the community that a fashion collection encapsulates – the graphic design, photography, make-up, illustration and set design.

V&A Dundee
The free exhibition, curated by respected fashion writer and editor Iain R Webb (pictured) and V&A Dundee peels back the glamorous facade of the fashion show

Iain R Webb, who is also a respected fashion writer and editor, says, “Whenever I returned from the international fashion weeks my suitcase was always heavier, laden with invitations that others would throw away and sketchbooks full of ideas.

“It’s now so exciting to see these objects, and others loaned by my front row friends and backstage collaborators included in this new exhibition at V&A Dundee. Each object tells its own design story and has so many memories. It’s a truly overwhelming moment.”

V&A Dundee
A sneak peek of what to expect in the exhibition

The majority of objects featured come from his personal archive, amassed during his 40+ years-long career in fashion. These include Webb’s sketch books from the front row, as well as invitations, personal notes and memorabilia from designers such as Christian Lacroix, Chanel, Dior, Vivienne Westwood, Versace, Yves Saint Laurent and more.

The exhibition also features unseen backstage photos of Björk, Linda Evangelista, Boy George, Grace Jones, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood.

V&A Dundee
Iain sitting front row at a show, sketching away

These particular objects and paraphernalia offer an insight into the sociocultural context of the time in which they were created; in particular, the ‘80s to the early 2000s, when international fashion shows and collection previews were primarily private, invitation-only events staged behind closed doors.

Francesca Bibby, curator at V&A Dundee says: “Visitors will be able to see just how many different creative disciplines are at work within the fashion industry; the makers, artists, illustrators and journalists who play an integral role in interpreting and communicating a fashion designer’s concepts across different media.

“Iain has been so generous in sharing his archive, stories and process as a writer and editor with us, and this has translated into an exhibition packed full of hundreds of objects, photographs and illustrations.

“There’s such a variety of material and we hope everyone, not just fashion enthusiasts, will enjoy this glimpse of the creativity and ingenuity present behind the scenes of a fashion show.”

V&A Dundee
L-r are Iain R Webb with Fashion Business students from Dundee and Angus College Kasia Lawrence, Chloe McKay, Shoena Memia, Hannah Smith and Emily Morris

Objects from other writers, collaborators, and designers in the fashion industry will also be included, highlighting the range of different design disciplines involved and variety of approaches to fashion documentation.

Discover more about the free exhibition on the V&A Dundee website.

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