Women and style take a prominent place at The Collyer Bristow Gallery this summer, where their current exhibition features some interesting interpretations of 1950’s fashion through a diverse range of iconic and modern artwork. Perhaps one of the 1950’s most renowned fashion photographers, John French’s work is featured throughout the exhibition. The simplicity of his black and white photography is what makes the images, and the women in them, most striking: their arching eyebrows and rounded lips draw attention to the natural beauty of the face and illustrate the charm and sensuality that women exuded in the 1950s as they began their journey to liberation. In contrast to this classic depiction of 1950s women, Alice Angus’ artwork uses an innovative fusion of watercolours, note book exerts and garment construction details in creations which are thought provoking and inventive. Sketches of working housewives mingle amidst fashion designs and soft pastel hues, blurring the lines between 1950s home life and fashion.
Contemporary art also features in a selection of photography from Carole Evans’ project ‘Retro Girls’. Her use of bright colours and boldly printed dresses depict a natural and inspiring vision of the inner strength of the women in her photographs. The artwork which was most intriguing, however, was WESSIELING’s ‘Fashion Chess’, a translation of the historic relationship between the major fashion capitols into five exquisitely crafted chess tables.
Aside from insightful images and quirky interpretations, the exhibition also houses a selection of screen printed fabrics designed by present day and 1950’s artists. Not only do they provide insight into the colours that were prominent at the time, they also add a tangible dimension to the exhibition by shedding light on popular textures and prints.
Though perhaps less explicit, female empowerment is as important today as it was in the 1950’s, so it comes as no surprise that this exhibition is one which captivates our fascination with such an enchanting era in fashion history. Refinement seeps through every piece, producing a truly refreshing exhibition of novel creations and a timeless celebration of women.
25th May – 21st September 2011
Collyer Bristow Gallery, 4 Bedford Row, London, WC1R 4TF