Top-10 fashion exhibitions you can't miss in 2018

Nadja Beschetnikova
January 22, 2018

We used to think that fashion lives on the catwalks and on the streets. Searching for actual trends and fresh looks we'd rather check the schedule of the next fashion weeks. But don't forget: nowadays one maybe doesn't have to be an artist to design something, but a great designer is always an artist. Little by little museum visitors are ready not only to marvel at oil canvases of old masters but see fashion as an art. The exhibition "Alexander McQueen - Savage Beauty" in 2011 attracted more than 660,000 visitors to the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

We drew a fashionable route for you and put together some must see fashion exhibitions you should add to your travelling plan.

1. "The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta" 
Until January 28th 2018 in Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

For spontaneous travelers or those who has already picked up the best outfits to attend stunning new productions at Houston Grand Opera, there is still a chance to get around to the Oscar de la Renta exhibition.

De la Renta became known in the 60s as one of the couturiers who dressed Jacqueline Kennedy. The bright start illuminated his path to the fame: de la Renta continues to dress first ladies, film stars and royalty. At the exhibition sourced from de la Renta’s corporate and personal archives, private lenders and the archives of Pierre Balmain, you can see such iconic items as Amal Clooney's wedding dress and outfits worn by Beyoncé, Kirsten Dunst and Penelope Cruz.

2. Chanel Mademoiselle Privé 
Until February 2nd 2018 at PMQ, Hong Kong 

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Hong Kong is once again a power place for all fans of the french brand. Following on from the success of Chanel’s Coco Café pop-up last year, the fashion house brings its “Mademoiselle Privé” exhibition, previously adored by the public in London and Seoul, to the city.

For free you can experience the charismatic personality of Coco Chanel and current artistic director Karl Lagerfeld and travel through all galaxies of this universe: from fragrance planet to small black holes, oh sorry, I mean dresses.

The concept of the exhibition is a visual pleasure itself. All pieces are presented in an original way. Assure yourself that every genius creation starts with the first line on the paper watching sewing patterns of the famous Chanel costumes and gasp from the perfection of Haute couture dresses, which is even more emphasized through white walls and neon stick instead of body form.

An app, specially created for the exhibition, should whet public’s appetite and involve more millennials.  

3. "Balenciaga – Shaping Fashion" 
Until Ferbruary 18th, 2018 in Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Heading to London Fashion Week? Do yourself a favor: schedule this exhibition! Even if you have to change your flight dates. Or miss a cocktail party.

The name of the exhibition brings it on. Form is a word that perfectly characterizes a style created by Cristóbal Balenciaga. In contrast to tiny figure-fitting pattern by Dior or Givenchy, Balenciaga evoked voluminous oversized forms and changed the typical silhouette of the woman. The legacy of the master still influences the fashion world. The exhibition showcases over 100 creations by Balenciaga and his followers. With some innovative technique like X-Ray pictures you can literally look inside the masterpieces of the influential Spanish couturier.

4. "Gianni Versace Retrospective" 
Until April 13th, 2018 in Kronprinzenpalais, Berlin  

Versace must have had a special feeling for Germany. His first fashion show took place in a small town Lippstadt and his first exhibition was organized in Berlin in 1994. The capital fascinated him so he wanted to come back, but he didn’t. 20 years after the horrible gunshot in Florida the spirit of the most influential fashion designer of the 90s and his unique and extraordinary style should thrill the world again. The exhibition presents many exclusive pieces from private collections. Among them are unique pieces for celebrities like Prince, Madonna, Elton John, George Michael or for top models like Claudia Schiffer and Naomi Campbell. What a pleasure for a connoisseur of art to snuggle up with the glamorous epoch inside the Neo-classical ambience of the Kronprinzenpalais!

5. "1927. The Return to Italy. Ferragamo" 
Until May 2nd, 2018 in Ferragamo Museum, Florence

Salvatore Ferragamo's shop in Hollywood attracted many celebrities from the cinema world. And little wonder he got a nickname 'Shoemaker to the Stars' soon. Creations by Ferragamo were best friends of such film icons like Mae West, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe as much as diamonds.

Curated by Carlo Sisi, the exhibition takes us on the Ferragamo’s homeward journey from USA, where he spent 12 years, back to Italy and explores the various elements of Italy’s early 20th-century culture that directly or indirectly shaped the visions and poetics of Ferragamo’s creations. The anniversary of homecoming was as well marked by capsule collection featuring six best-known shoe models created during the late 1920s and early ’30s in Hollywood. When opening the precious box with golden metal logo plaque on it one may wonder how modern these pieces look: from the leopard-print sock boots to the monochrome black-and-white pumps. 

A great master is always way ahead of his time. What we luckily can only enjoy.

6. “Olivier Theyskens – She walks in beauty” 
Until April 15th, 2018 in Mode Museum, Antwerp

Yellow corseted dress worn by Madonna at the VH1 Fashion Award 1998 made him famous. Theyskens, a wonder boy of the fashion industry, gained prestige when he was 20 and has done enough to launch an own exhibition now, when he is 41. A predilection for romantic designs with a twist, subtle lines and magnificent materials left a trace in the collections he created for Rochas, Nina Ricci and Theory. The exhibition guides you through the creative evolution of the Belgian and reconstructs his path not only with the clothes but also with his fascinating drawings, videos from catwalks and photographs.

The name of the exhibition inspired by Lord Byron’s poem, hand-written on the walls by Olivier Theyskens. 

She walks in beauty, like the night. 
Of cloudless climes and starry skies; 
And all that's best of dark and bright 
Meet in her aspect and her eyes. 

Could anything describe the journey of the artist’s muse through time better?

7. Jil Sander. Present Tense 
Until May, 6th 2018 in Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt 

Frankfurt, rather known as a business than a fashion center, has a privilege of hosting first Jil Sander solo exhibition ever. Through Jil Sander never considered her aesthetics as “fashionable”. If you wear Jil Sander you are modern, she said. She stepped out from the beaten trail of typical Parisian couture. Her approach has signs of inspiration gained in Bauhaus vision with its mix of creativity and industrial production and purity of German classicism. Material and techniques are the heart of the world of Jil Sander, free from unnecessary mannerism and decorativeness.

With all possible visual means and multimedia installations the spirit of Jil Sander style expands from different sides through thematic sections from runaway videos to advertising campaigns. A weekend in the city on Main-river gives an opportunity to see and reconceive best creations by “Queen of less” before they travel to New York and Tokyo.

8. Martin Margiela – Retrospective 
From March 3rd to July 15th 2018 in Palais Galliera, Paris 

Martin Margiela, another Belgian brilliant in the world fashion crown, doesn’t like to do interviews and be in the spotlight. But his fans have a chance to keep on exploring his creative world for the second year in a row. After exhibition dedicated to his Hermès years in Antwerp last year, the celebration of Margiela’s talents continues in Paris. The retrospective of his career, from spring-summer 1989 to spring-summer 2009, opens on 3rd March.

Pieces from Margiela’s collections resemble historical artifacts, at least in respect of historical turns in the views in fashion industry, which he provoked with his approach. He deconstructed clothes, pushed proportions to the limit and raised a question of temporariness and obsolescence in the fashion, conjuring new unique pieces from the old recovered materials.

The exhibition presents more than 100 silhouettes mixed with video and installation and will definitely give you food for reflection to which will suit a bottle of some nice wine at the evening.

9.  Musée Yves Saint Laurent – Inaugural Display 
Until September 9th 2018 in Musée Yves Saint Laurent, Paris

Pierre Bergé sacrificed his last years to this big project but sadly couldn’t experience its whole beauty as the museum opened after Bergé passed away.

The place itself is legendary and worth visiting. Here at the studio on 5 avenue Marceau Saint Laurent brought his masterpieces to life for nearly thirty years between 1974 and 2002.

Museum helps to delve into the creative world of Saint Laurent. Walking through the rooms you will soak yourself in the methods and inspirations of the great master.

The journey includes Saint Laurent’s studio, where you can see not only patterns and presious materials, but as well his talismans, including the walking stick of his mentor, Christian Dior. His dialogue with arts and cultural traditions comes to light inviting you to a visionary voyage to Africa, Russia or China as you look at the pieces from all his collections starting from his debut in 1962.

The overwhelming feeling of being so close to the iconic items like Mondriaan dress exhibited next to some unique private things presented to the public for the first time, makes a lasting impression.

Be prepared that after leaving the museum building you can find yourself on the way to the airport. A wish to take next flight to Morocco and visit a twin brother of Parisian museum - Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakesh - could be irresistible.

10. Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier 
From 10th May through 7th October 2018 in Design Museum, London 

At the start of his career the tunesian-born designer worked with Christian Dior and Thierry Mugler and dressed Marie-Helene de Rotshild and Greta Garbo.

His distinctive elegance and precise cuts, which brought him a nickname "The King of Cling", were loved by Hollywood stars, pop icons and top models. Michelle Obama wore creation by Alaïa to the NATO dinner: a great honor for the designer with Tunesian roots to outcompete the clothes of American collegues which were traditionally acceptable for such events.

Alaïa's death in November 2017 probably raises this exhibition from the simple retrospective to the high level of hymning the legacy. Or even his last homilies as 60 items for the exhibition were selected by designer himself. Alaïa influenced the fashion world with his approach and his attitude. He designed by draping and sculpting directly on the human frame and cut his patterns himself, which were attention-getting in the world of depersonalised fashion houses. He established a trand for discreet luxury, combining innovative materials and modern technique, and was never to shy to speak his mind. His criticism of Anna Vintour and Karl Lagerfeld shook the fondations of the fashion world.

Alaïa's name might be not so frequently repeated on Instagram or headlines, all the more reason for attending this exhibition. What a great opprortunity to remember, that only the one who devotes his body and soul could leave an imprint with his work. You'll be mesmerized by the spirit of this unique independent-minded couturier.