Five must-see fashion shows

  • 16 September 2014

From purple wedding dresses to the fashion of feathers, explore the cutting edge of couture at these eye-opening exhibitions.

1. Horst: Photographer of Style, until 4 January 2015
V&A (Victoria & Albert Museum), London. 50% off with National Art Pass

One of the pre-eminent fashion photographers of the 20th century, Horst P Horst was born in Germany and spent most of his career in Paris and New York, working for publications including Vogue. Mentored by Paris Vogue's primary photographer George Hoyningen-Huene, who he eventually succeeded, his images appeared in fashion magazines internationally and incorporated 1930s Surrealism, Hollywood portraiture, travel photography and nudes. Bringing together photographs from across Horst's career, including many from Condé Nast's archive, Photographer of Style is a stunning retrospective of Horst's transcendent style.

2. Knitwear: Chanel to Westwood, 19 Sep 2014 – 18 Jan 2015
Fashion and Textile Museum, London. 50% off with National Art Pass

From the crocheted mini-dresses of the 1960s to the ironic kitsch of novelty jumpers, the 150 pieces of knitwear brought together for this exhibition have been drawn from the collection of Mark and Cleo Butterfield. One section of the exhibition, Visionary Knitwear, features radical 21st-century designs chosen by Sandy Black of the London College of Fashion, while Knitwear in Fashion Photography highlights pictures from magazines ranging from Harper's Bazaar to Queen.

3. Women Fashion Power, 29 Oct 2014 – 26 Apr 2015
Design Museum, London. 50% off with National Art Pass

Thatcher's blue Mansfield suit; Princess Diana's Jacques Azagury birthday dress; and favourite outfits by 20 of today's leading female figures, from Kirsty Wark to Princess Charlène of Monaco.​ Devised by world-renowned architect Zaha Hadid, Women Fashion Power explores how influential women have built reputations and asserted authority through fashion. Spanning 150 years of fashion history, including 1920s beaded flapper dresses and bubblegum pink 1980s Reebok Hi Tops, the exhibition is a celebration of clothing's role in projecting character, influence, and individuals' personal style philosophies.

4. Birds of Paradise: Plumes and Feathers in Fashion, 25 Oct 2014 – 19 Apr 2015
The Bowes Museum, County Durham. Free entry with National Art Pass

The use of feathers in fashion dates back hundreds of years, with origins in its own ancient profession: the plumassier. More recently, feathers have been incorporated into the works of some of fashion's most iconic designers: Alexander McQueen, Jean Paul Gaultier, and pieces by Prada and Gucci, to name a few. Originally exhibited at the MoMu Fashion Museum in Antwerp, Birds of Paradise explores feathers in fashion, examining their associations with refinement, luxury and romance. Highlights include samples from Parisian Maison Lemarié, one of the last surviving traditional feather studios.

5. Georgians: Dress for Polite Society, 25 Jan 2014 – 1 Jan 2016
Fashion Museum, Bath. Free entry with National Art Pass

In the 18th century, Bath's grandiose Assembly Rooms provided a glamorous setting for high-society parties and events. Today, the building is home to the Fashion Museum, and the dazzling 18th-century costumes that would once have been worn there by socialites are now on display for a stunning exhibition. Dress for Polite Society explores the influence of Georgian design on contemporary fashion, bringing together original outfits with a number of contemporary pieces that they inspired, by designers ranging from Anna Sui to Stephen Jones.

Tags: What to seeMuseums and galleriesExhibitionsGreat days out