JAN TAMINIAU at Centraal Museum in Utrecht

Utrecht’s Centraal Museum has another fabulous fashion exhibition. This time, fashion created by Dutch designer Jan Taminiau stuns visitors. He is famous for creating several outfits worn by Queen Maxima.

The suit Taminiau created for her, based on Dutch PTT ‘post bags’for instance, ensured the PTT print became iconic. More examples created for Queen Maxima are shown throughout this exhibition. Take the ‘Royal Blue’ dress and cape she wore in 2013, exhibited in Taminiau’s ‘recreated’ design studio.

Once past staff who scan cards and check tickets – twice when I visited – visitors walk through a kind of long corridor, before entering the exhibition proper. It occupies the same space as previous fashion exhibitions this museum organized.

Four large spaces and several smaller ones contain wonderful dresses. Take the first room, which is full of party dresses. Taminiau used loads of beads and sequines. These dresses certainly set the tune for the rest of this exhibition.

Glamour and glitter do play an important part in what is exhibited. Most of Taminiau’s creations are for the well-heeled.

Inside the exhibition, Taminiau explains how he ensures dresses ‘work’ while those who wear them move. He not only creates fashion; ballet costumes are also displayed. Visitors can watch videos, showing the costumes worn by dancers.

It is also interesting to learn, what inspires Taminiau. One of Queen Maxima’s outfits was inspired by 17th century wallpaper from a palace. A whole collection was inspired by a deserted, run-down Spanish villa. The attic above the antique shop, once run by Taminiau’s grandmother has been recreated.

When visiting, do not focus just on the perfect designs and manual work which went into each creation. Do not just focus on the story behind a collection. Make sure not to miss the tiny jokes displayed among the lace, tartan, weird shoes and Swarovski glam as well.

A few points and warnings are in place though. Before the exhibition opened, the museum expected to be flooded by eager visitors. It uses admittance time-slots and visitors without tickets who show up at the till may miss out. The best solution is, to buy online tickets for a specific date and time slot.

As mentioned above: this exhibition sprawls across four large spaces. Quite a few visitors seem to forget to explore the last two rooms. Others lose their way out. Even your reviewer, who visits this museum on a regular basis, thinks better sign-posting is needed. Moreover, people who have problems with stairs and walking, will find this exhibition contains a few hurdles.

Do not let all this discourage you from an introduction to the wonderful world of Jan Taminiau, at Utrecht’s Centraal Museum! After all: sign-posting may have improved after the first weekend and staff should be on hand to help whenever necessary. So make time to visit this exhibition before 27th of Augusts 2018.     Kate Deni     5th June 2018

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