Reading Time: 2 minutes

History of fashion


The Victoria and Albert Museum‘s was established in London in 1852 and holds collections of art in virtually every medium, from many parts of the world, and visitors to the museum encounter a treasure house of amazing and beautiful objects. The story of the V&A spans two thousand years of art, architecture, furniture, textiles, photography, sculpture, painting, jewellery, glass, ceramics, book arts, Asian art and design, theatre and performance.

The V&A Fashion collection is the largest and most comprehensive collection of dress in the world. Key items in the collection include rare 17th century gowns, 18th century ‘mantua’ dresses, 1930s eveningwear, 1960s daywear and post-war couture. The collection is particularly strong from the 18th century onwards, containing mainly European fashion and accessories for men and women, together with important items of 19th century dress for the elite in India, China and Japan.

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, which closed in 2015, has become the V&A’s most visited exhibition ever. Celebrating the extraordinary creative talent of one of the most innovative designers of recent times, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty was the first and largest retrospective of McQueen‘s work to be presented in Europe.

Over and again, Alexander McQueen‘s spectacular catwalk presentations unleashed powerful feelings as compelling sources of aesthetic experience. In the spirit of Romanticism, unfettered emotionalism sustained his profound appreciation of beauty. Evoking the feelings of shock and awe associated with the Sublime, his dark imaginings elicited an uneasy pleasure that merged wonder and terror, incredulity and revulsion.

McQueen‘s romantic sensibility propelled his creativity and advanced his fashion in directions both unimagined and unprecedented. His individualistic and defiant vision was augmented by an acute sense of time and place, and a preoccupation with the exotic and the untamed. Filtered through a powerful modernity McQueen‘s work was, above all, driven by his fascination with the beauty and savagery of the natural world.

Ph ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London