Five spring fashion exhibitions

  • 2 April 2014

From legends of French haute couture to the founders of Savile Row, we choose the best fashion exhibitions to see in the UK this spring.

1. The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk​
9 April – 25 August 2014
Barbican Art Gallery, London

From the iconic conical bra sported by Madonna during her Blonde Ambition tour to collaborations with Cindy Sherman and Andy Warhol, French couturier Jean Paul Gaultier has helped shape global fashion for nearly four decades. This exhibition – more installation than fashion show – brings together over 140 of Gaultier's subversive designs, which are displayed alongside footage of concerts, catwalk presentations and music videos (as well as clips of Gaultier's cult television show, Eurotrash).

2. The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945–2014
5 April – 27 July 2014
V&A (Victoria & Albert Museum), London

Since the landmark Sala Bianca catwalk shows of the early 1950s, when Giovanni Battista Giorgini showcased Italy's finest designs as a viable alternative to their Parisian counterparts, Italian fashion has been recognised across the globe as a world leader in quality and style. With pieces by Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Prada and more, this exhibition charts the history of Italian fashion over the past six decades, highlighting the exceptional quality of techniques, materials and expertise that have made Italy synonymous with beauty and style.

3. Wedding Dresses 1775–2014
3 May 2014 – 15 March 2015
V&A (Victoria & Albert Museum), London

Charting the evolution of wedding dresses over 240 years through chronological displays, this year-long V&A exhibition places dresses at the heart of exploring changing social attitudes to marriage and wedding ceremonies. Featuring dresses dating as far back as the 18th century, the displays bring together dresses worn by women across over two centuries and in a range of faiths. Highlights range from the Anna Valentine-designed silk coat worn by the Duchess of Cornwell following her marriage to the Prince of Wales to the purple dress worn by Dita Von Teese for her wedding to Marilyn Manson.

4. Henry Poole & Co: Founder of Savile Row
21 Sep 2013 – 11 May 2014
The Bowes Museum, County Durham

The inventors of the tuxedo, Henry Poole and his family established their tailors in 1806 on Brunswick Square in London. The business originally specialised in military tailoring, supplying many of the uniforms worn at the Battle of Waterloo and, following the death of their founder James Poole in 1846, the business moved to Savile Row as the first tailor in that now-iconic area of the capital. The Bowes Museum brings together key pieces from over two centuries of tailoring, a period during which the business has held the Royal Warrant for Edward VII, George V, George VI and Queen Elizabeth II.

​5. Hello, My Name is Paul Smith
15 November 2013 – 22 June 2014
Design Museum, London

The Design Museum's exhibition exploring the life and work of idiosyncratic British designer Paul Smith has been such a success that the museum has extended its run by popular demand. Born in Nottingham and beginning his career in a clothing warehouse aged 15, Smith describes his own style as 'classic with a twist'. Bringing together landmark pieces with a life-size recreation of the designer's office at Paul Smith headquarters, this is an unmissable show for any fans of one of Britain's best-loved designers.

Tags: What to seeMuseums and galleriesExhibitionsGreat days out