What defines good taste? How much gold is too much? Can it be ‘too much’ at all?
Barbican’s new exhibition confronts us with these questions in a discourse about vulgar and vulgarity seen through the prism of fashion.
By putting on display amazing works by designers such as Christian Dior, Lanvin, Moschino, Miuccia Prada, Vivienne Westwood and many more, the exhibition’s curator Judith Clark and psychoanalyst Adam Phillips take us on a journey showing that, depending on the context and time, the same item seen as vulgar by one might be read as a sign of good taste by another.
The exhibition, located on two floors in 11 rooms, tackles several topics revolving around the subject of vulgarity: too much, too big, mass production, the new baroque, the supermarket-themed catwalk for Chanel AW 2014-15 collection and even the puritan, where breath-taking Belgian lacework of puritan collars has been confronted with two postmodern fashion items by John Galliano and Alexander McQueen.
In a video with series of interviews on vulgarity, displayed next to the collection, the headwear designer Stephen Jones concludes eloquently, “What we must never forget is that the vulgar is tremendous fun.” For this reason the Barbican exhibition is a must-see, and not only for those interested in fashion.
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