The Victoria and Albert Museum explores the relationship between fashion and nature in an engaging exhibition that will leave you with a new perspective of the clothes that you wear.
Fashioned from Nature is certainly one of the most thought-provoking and intricately researched exhibitions that the Victoria and Albert Museum has put on in recent years. It goes through many of the natural materials that people use to create clothing from (and take for granted) its qualities and techniques used to create many of the items that we wear, offering a refreshing and balanced look at the ever changing relationship between fashion and nature.
This is not an exhibition that purely that focuses on fur and feathers, but also looks at the other materials that have been used to create fashion items including rubber, whale bone and cotton, highlighting the technical processes used. But Fashioned from Nature also highlights how the desire and demand for fashionable clothing has also over the years began to overtake respect for the natural world and helped to contribute in some ways to the damage of the environment.
But it is not an overly negative exhibition as a whole. It suggests (particularly on the top level of the display) that advances in technology and research are helping designers to create various fashion outfits using replica materials. Even as far back as 1828, dressmakers were using pineapple leaves fibre to help create outfits as one dress on display reveals and it is far from the only example on display.
Divided into mini sections which discusses a wide range of natural materials, Fashioned from Nature expertly analyses and celebrates how nature has contributed to fashion over the centuries and is impressive in the level of detail that it goes into.
It is a thought-provoking exhibition that makes the visitor realise how much nature has given us and with the help of a brutally honest video makes you realise just why we now need to help nature in return. But it is also fair to say that at times the exhibition does come across as a bit clinical and hard to engage with, particularly when it comes to the more modern fashionable garments on display – a period which is still very much still trying to find its way in the wake of environmental awareness.
Fashioned from Nature impresses not only because of its detailed examination of the relationship between nature and fashion which is constantly evolving, but also because it serves as a timely warning and precaution about the importance of looking after the environment that you leave the exhibition re-examining your outfits.
By Emma Clarendon
Fashioned from Nature will be on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum until the 27th January 2019. For more information visit: https://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/fashioned-from-nature