Changing face of fashion

Another small exhibition at BMAG which I found interesting is “Dress and Drawing” in the Print Room, which is on until September 6th. The exhibition looks at depictions of clothes and fashion in a range of images from portraits to fashion plates, and covering artists including Millais, Sargent, Burne-Jones, Laura Knight and Max Beerbohm. There are also two dresses and a range of antique accessories, and some fascinating miniatures, from 1590 to 1820. 328322

Some of the exhibits are cartoons, intended to poke fun at dedicated followers of fashion; some are society portraits, some illustrations from novels. It gives an interesting sense of changing fashion, but moreover highlights how unreliable these images can be for researching fashion, since portraits are frequently of the wealthy upper-classes (for example, Matisse’s Le Renard Blanc, right) rather than the average person, and fashion plates tend to be aspirational rather than indicative of the norm. The nineteenth-century prevails, perhaps unsurprisingly, but it’s an interesting selection.

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