Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Vogue 100 - A Century of Style

Just a quick blog today, as this is the last week of the Vogue 100: A Century of  Style exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery and I thought you might like to grab a ticket before it closes.

This exhibition concentrates on the photography rather than the fashion itself and there are some stunning portraits in here. As you might expect, there are several designers featured - my favourites were these wonderful shots of Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood. 

Kate's meteoric rise is charted, from dewy-skinned teenage discovery to London Look icon, and there are of course the stalwarts of the supermodel generation - Claudia, Linda, Naomi, Cindy et al. 

My visit was last weekend, when shots of the other famous Kate had been hung (visible here through the arch) and which for me have a slightly retro, almost seventies feel. In the previous room, I particularly liked the striking intensity of this black and white portrait of a boxer.

The exhibition is set up in straightforward fashion, if you'll pardon the pun: it's in reverse chronological order by decade, so you go from current day back to the magazine's birth. There are plenty of the shots I associate with classic Vogue - impossibly beautiful women in impossibly glamorous clothes and/ or surroundings. To address the point raised in other reviews, do these offend my feminist sensibilities? Absolutely not. I might not have Christy Turlington's killer cheekbones or Linda Evangelista's endless legs, and my life largely does not involve standing semi-naked on deserted palm-fringed islands or hanging off the arm of a chiselled, tuxedo-clad man by a private pool with champagne glass in hand - but for me these images provide a harmless fantasy, a girls' version of a James Bond movie. They are escapist, not genuinely aspirational, and surely we all need to dream?

As you move onwards into the exhibition, and back into Vogue's history, you can see how the images reflect the mood of the eras; there is a wonderful portrait of Charlie Chaplin and some languid shots of intellectual and literary greats, as well as the post-war backdrops providing a visual summary of the age. 
In summary, Vogue 100 won't change your life, but it is an enjoyable and gently indulgent way to spend an hour or so, looking back at the cultural phenomenon that is Vogue. And FYI ladies, the gift shop is selling the fabulously long-lasting Lipstick Queen lipsticks, including the bizarre and wonderful green Frog Prince lipstick that changes colour on your lips, and some fab hair bands that this summer I'm wearing as festival type wristbands. 

Thanks for being there, Vogue - here's to the next 100 years. 

 Yours, fashionably late, 

Girl About Town xx

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