The Victoria & Albert Museum has just announced its next fashion exhibition. Fashioned from Nature, which will "trace the complex relationship between fashion and the natural world" from 1600 to present day, will run from April 21, 2018 through January 27, 2019.
The exhibition will explore how designers such as Christian Dior, Dries van Noten, and Philip Treacy draw inspiration from the beauty and power of nature. Of course, as a champion of environmentally and ethically conscious fashion, Stella McCartney's work will also be highlighted, with her menswear and womenswear displayed next to an upcycled dress made by British designer Christopher Raeburn. Emma Watson's 2016 Met Gala get-up, made by Calvin Klein using recycled plastic bottles, will also be on display.
Naturally, fashion's relationship with nature can't be examined without looking at the industry's impact on our environment. A varied display of posters, clothes emblazoned with slogans, and artworks will chart the influence of protest on changing fashion's attitude to responsible production. Notable champion of ethical fashion practices, designer Vivienne Westwood, will feature via an outfit she wore while protesting climate change, and Katharine Hamnett's iconic 1989 'Clean Up or Die' collection will be presented alongside posters made by Fashion Revolution, a collective with the aim of changing the way we source, make, and buy clothes.
The show will focus on the past as well as the present, from the natural fibers favored during the 17th and 18th centuries — think silk, flax, wool, and cotton — through to the manmade materials which brought fashion to the masses and now accounts for a huge percentage of the world's water and air pollution. Beyond simply hammering home fashion's negative impact on nature, the exhibition will offer solutions to industry-wide problems. From the use of low-water denim to wild rubber, more conceptual projects will be on show, like the synthetic spider silk tunic and trousers made by Bolt Threads x Stella McCartney.
Following on from the enormous successes of Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion; Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear; and Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980s, we know the V&A's fashion exhibitions are informative and immersive experiences. Promising to be a thought-provoking, beautiful, and action-inspiring show, Fashioned from Nature couldn't come at a more important time.