FASHIONED FROM NATURE | London, V&A

Fashioned from Nature, currently showing at the Victoria & Albert museum, is a meditation on how clothes have and continue to influence and be influenced by nature. The exhibition takes full advantage of its two floors to showcase gorgeous attire from the V&A collection, as well as items from the Natural History Museum.

There’s a lot of beautiful clothes on display here, but a salient aspect of this exhibition is the exploitative cost of making couture. One example: baleen, a keratinous substance growing in the upper jaw of some whales, was once used to fashion corsets, umbrellas, canes and other apparel.

The second and more urgent part of the exhibition, spread across the upper floor, involves innovation and sustainability. The crowded display cases reveal ecological ways of producing clothes with an understanding of just how harmful fashion is to the world’s fossil fuels, chemicals, fauna, flora and water.

The viewer is surrounded by the sounds of nature and profiteering, and the captions are pithy while remaining informative. Despite its layered complexity, the exhibition is elegantly edited. This is a smart show that entices you with beautiful clothes and witty epithets, the better to educate you on the dire need for sustainability.

Book now until 27 January 2019.

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