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Fashion & Gardens - Garden Museum

1st Mar 2014

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WHAT A GORGEOUS DAY!! Spring is clearly coming along swiftly which means only one thing… GARDENS! This season, The Garden Museum in Lambeth is celebrating all things fashionable and all things leafy by 'Fashion & Gardens' - the first exhibition to explore the relationship between fashion and garden design, from the age of Queen Elizabeth I to the catwalks of London Fashion Week 2014. The exhibition, curated by writer, historian and Garden Museum Trustee Nicola Shulman, will identify and celebrate the many links and correspondences between gardening and fashion design. The connection has existed for centuries, but this exhibition is the first attempt articulate it.

The museum will feature designers from Valentino and Alexander McQueen to Philip Treacy and Christopher Bailey of Burberry who continue to be inspired by the garden. Of his spring/summer 2014 collection Bailey comments "I wanted this idea of an English rose garden. There are all these very dusky, gentle, soft colours and then all of a sudden you'll see a spikey, very red rose in the middle of it."

The museum will also examine how fashion and gardens have shared some of their most alluring decorative elements and the phenomena of particular flowers’ popularity at particular periods. In the age of plant collectors such as John Tradescant, dresses at the royal court were embroidered with accurate botanical images of flowers from overseas, and garden designs began to inspire clothes – as in Lettice Newdigate aged two, a portrait of a Jacobean heiress in a garden which will be exhibited in London for the first time since it was painted in 1606.

The exhibition features examples of the flower craze of camellias in the 1840s to sunflowers in the 1890s and daisies and Mary Quant in the 1960s, including a number of remarkable loans from the British Museum, National Gallery and several fashion houses. The V&A have made an exceptional contribution to the exhibition of three rare designs on silk by Anna-Maria Garthwaite. The British Museum is loaning a rarely seen 1779 collage of the Common Corn Poppy by Mary Delany (1700 –1788.) Mary was an avid gardener and accomplished at needlework, drawing, painting, and cutting paper.

The preoccupation with floral decoration is brought right up to date with more recent examples and images of floral and garden themes in contemporary dress and accessories, like Yves St Laurent’s Haute Couture 1988 Iris and Sunflower jackets, after Van Gogh, embroidered by Lesage. Valentino’s exceptionally beautiful Spring/Summer 2013 couture collection achieves a new expression of the garden theme: here entire parterres are scrolled out over evening dresses, and the wrought-iron arabesques of park gates appear re-imagined as evening cloaks and capes.

“Fashion and gardens are an irresistible mix. So many designers have been inspired by gardens through the centuries and this exhibition is a fascinating illustration of how nature has influenced both how our clothes have looked and how they have been worn over the years.” - Alexandra Shulman, Editor, British Vogue.

'Fashion & Gardens' [from 7 February - 27 April 2014] at The Garden Museum, 5 Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1;