Wednesday, 29 May 2013

David Bowie Is...

I have just watched the brilliant 'David Bowie - Five Years' on BBC iPlayer and I now really want to revisit the V&A's David Bowie Is Exhibition! This outstanding exhibition at the V&A Museum uses individual headsets to create a unique sound and vision experience for each visitor. Moving through the exhibition rooms, your personal soundtrack changes depending on where you are standing and what is in front of you.

Image from V&A Website
Curators Victoria Broakes and Geoffrey Marsh had access to David Bowie's personal archive. From over 75,000 items in the archive, they selected 300 that they felt best illustrated the many aspects of Bowie’s iconic status. Displays include hand written song lyrics, designs for stage sets, photographs, videos, artwork and, of course, the magnificent costumes. Although the tailored coats designed by Alexander MacQueen are worth the visit alone, it was the eye catching knit and crochet garments that really got my attention. 

Costume for Earthling Designed by Alexander MacQueen
Image from V&A Website
Collaboration with leading artists and designers has been a feature throughout Bowie’s career and the exhibition explores this in detail through interviews and examples. From Natasha Korniloff’s cobweb crochet costume with appliqué gold hands to the asymmetrical knit costume by Kensai Yamamoto, David Bowie’s stage costumes shock and dazzle. 

Costume designed by Natasha Korniloff
Image from V&A Website
A 1973 asymmetric Kensai Yamamoto knit costume is displayed on a crouching mannequin and shown in concert footage on the huge screens towards the end of the exhibition. In a recorded interview in another part of the exhibition, Yamamoto describes his collaboration with David Bowie as Bowie’s western aesthetic and Yamamoto’s Eastern aethsetic crashing into each other.  

Display of Kensai Yamamoto Knit Costume
Image from V&A website
Another display shows the classic sweater in blue with white polkadots designed by Freddie Burretti. Worn with a pale blue suit for the 1974 Diamond Dogs tour, the sweater is also shown as worn by Bowie in concert on the giant display. At the time, the exhibition notes, many fans made copies of this iconic Bowie sweater. 

Freddie Burretti Costume display in front of huge video screen
Image from V&A website
David Bowie Is......
......wonderful for fans of David Bowie and for those interested in seeing how he used the popular culture around him to define himself and then in turn inspired other artists and designers. There is a section towards the end of the exhibition showing examples of his influence in fashion and beyond with examples such as Balenciaga, Balmain and Lady Gaga.

David Bowie Is.....
.....a huge success and very enjoyable. The Exhibition sold more advanced tickets than any other at the V&A and I thoroughly recommend a visit. 

David Bowie Is..... the V&A until 11th August 2013. 
.....and in 'David Bowie - Five Years' on BBC iPlayer until Saturday, 1/6/13!

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