Visitors to the fashion exhibitions of the Kunstmuseum in The Hague know that they are in for a treat with each new show. When you think is doesn’t get any better, you are baffled again by the current offering, Royals & Rebels.
It has been a long time wish of the Kunstmuseum fashion department to organise a solo exhibition on Vivienne Westwood, the rebellious British fashion designer whom the museum has been following since the 1980s. And indeed, talks were underway when Ms. Westwood passed away earlier this year. It was then decided to dedicate the larger part of the already planned exhibition on British fashion to Westwood in homage to her legacy to the (fashion)world.
In each of the rooms you will find a design by Westwood, both from the museum’s own collection as well as loans from abroad. One of them is an iconic piece of Westwood – the wedding dress worn by Sarah Jessica Parker in the movie Sex in the City. This became available after it was (completely in line with Westwood’s ideas) reused for the series And Just Like That.
Other not to be missed items are the two outfits worn by Lady Diana: a black jacket by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, which Diana wore attending a number of funerals and an exquisite cocktail dress by Catherine Walker.
Another showstopper is only related to Princess Di – the comfortable knitted sweater covered in white sheep and one black sheep. This is a remake. which is still in production, of the one she wore it to the polo matches of the then Prince Charles in 1983.
A second royal touch to the exhibition is the two hats worn by Queen Máxima, one while attending the races at Royal Ascot and the other, quite recently, to the coronation of King Charles.
Not only the pieces on display are of a high quality, also the presentation of the exhibition is once again fantastic. It takes you on a trip through British fashion from daily life in the city while taking the underground followed by a day in the country side where people play croquet and wear tweeds. It is therefore no surprise that the museum also shows a Chanel piece since she was inspired by the possibilities of tweed when dating Boy Capel in the 1910s.
This underlines the influence British fashion has (had) on costume history which is the second red thread of this highly recommended exhibition at the Kunstmuseum in The Hague. Wendy Fossen 7th September 2023
Wendy Fossen also offers guided tours to the exhibition in English. More details here