Hello Art Lovers — Europe’s Finest Galleries Are Waiting for You

Art and Europe, they’re synonymous, right?. Some of the greatest artists to ever pick up a paintbrush (or whatever it was that they chose to use) hailed from the hallowed turfs of a number of European countries. From Pablo Picasso to Lucian Freud, Europe totally and truly has a legacy in the world of artwork. And that legacy lives on at all times through the various art galleries that are dotted around the continent. I adore the different galleries in London and have been a lucky enough gal to have visited them on travels too. If you’re a lover of art like me, then you just gotta visit one of, if not all, of the galleries on this list.

Whitechapel Gallery, London – Shoreditch, London boasts an array of top art galleries, but Whitechapel is at the helm of that rather illustrious list. It’s richness in history is just one of the reasons why. It houses pieces created by some of the greatest European artists ever to live, like as mentioned above, Picasso and Freud. It has truly been a staple of the London art scene for well over a century. But it’s not all about the past. Whitechapel also boasts an array of the most modern pieces of art imaginable. A visit here is a must for all art lovers. But why just limit yourself to seeing style in the gallery that you visit? When staying in this part of the world, you have to do it right. By this it is meant that you have to do it in style. And to do it in style you should stay in a hotel like as the Dorsett City, London, it’s pretty swoon worthy in my opinion. The best thing of all, there is merely an eight minute walks worth of distance between this hotel and the gallery. Boom. Treat yo’self. 

The National Gallery, Prague – Prague’s National Gallery plays host to the largest collection of art in the Czech Republic — a pretty impressive feat when you consider just how artsy and vibrant this country is! In this collection, traditional Czech artwork, Cubism and Baroque pieces can be found. so, ya know that a visit here is never gonna get dull. With all the things to see on offer here there will always be something new to feast your eyes upon around every single corner. And there will always be something for somebody to enjoy, even those who you drag to the gallery that kinda protest that galleries are boring!

The Groeninge Museum, Bruges – For all art lovers out there who have a particular appreciation for pieces of the past, then Groeninge is an ace place for you. The artwork found here dates as far back as the 18th century and gives you a real taste for the local culture and the pieces that originate from this area of the world.

When you plan to visit an art gallery, especially one in a city you’ve never been to before, you have to plan your day. You have to be attentive to the fact that there is simply just so much to see, not only in the gallery itself but in the city in which it stands. Because of this, to save you missing out on anything, you should plan your day to ensure you see just about everything. Go, have an adventure! 

You Say You Wanna Dive Into The Sixties?

It’s a biggie. The V&A’s current main exhibition; ‘You Say You Want A Revolution?’ is epic, I mean, it really is huuuuge! My Mama and I spent last Sunday in sunny Kensington and took in all the sights and sounds of this ace exhibition; a good day indeed. The V&A is always utter perfection when it comes to these giant offerings, the scale was that of the McQueen and the Hollywood *still my all time favourite exhibition* ones, you need a good couple of hours to get round it and get it all up in your face and ears, it’s worth it, it’s always worth it with that place. This show covers so much, you don’t know where to look first, and you’re handed headphones on your way in so there’s constant audio too. The numerous rooms cover the latter part of the sixties, conveying the importance and effects of this massively important era, and they present it through fashion, film, music and political activism from the time. Behold the beauty of the vintage clothes that make up part of the show, perfectly selected to give just the right amount of mixed media. I mean, this exhibition can please most people, any age. The ones who lived through it will be queuing up for a hit of sweet nostalgia, vintage fans, music lovers, people keen to learn about the history, this show has a serious pull to many. It covers loads, there’s even a piece of the actual Moon from NASA in reference to Apollo 11 off of 1969. the actual MOON! I was staring at that for a while let me tell ya! It has outfits from The Beatles ‘Sgt. Pepper’ album cover, a Barbarella outfit, a jumpsuit worn by Mick Jagger and actual handwritten song lyrics from John Lennon and the like. Oooof! It’s really very cool. One room is set up as Woodstock, with fake grass and a big stage streaming footage of the event, full marks to whoever curated that neat little idea! It’s a grand show, a really thorough exhibition, lots to read, look at, listen to and watch. It was almost too much, but I guess it means a second visit is a good idea if you wanna soak it all up real good! I’d say go, do it, go dive into the 60’s for a few hours and become absorbed. Be careful with those headphones though, I took mine off at points just to focus on the visual as it’s all quite in your face. My Mum didn’t though, and her, along with some others, sporadically shouted conversation forgetting they had headphones on; ‘Your Dad wore that aftershave‘ pointing at a Brut ad. Yes, Mum, he did, but the whole of the V&A doesn’t need to hear about it. A good exhibition indeed.  

You Say You Want A Revolution? is on now at The V&A until 26th February 2017

Vogue 100: A Century of Style

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This Monday I personally got my peepers on the Vogue 100: A Century of Style exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, goodness, so much beauty for my eyes to behold. Celebrating the 100th birthday of British Vogue, this is somewhat of an epic exhibition, I mean, maaan, where do you start when trying to curate an exhibition showing the highlights of 100 years worth of fashion and photography from the worlds most prestigious fashion bible? A magazine which has launched and defined the careers of so many models, designers and photographers. A hard task, the selection and editing must have been pretty intense. But this, is a stunning exhibition. Beautifully, simply and elegantly executed, with no gimmicks and no unnecessary pomp. It’s a big exhibition, I mean, it kinda had to be to do justice to the subject, but it doesn’t drag and it’s spaced to perfection so you can take in each image on it’s own whilst also enjoying the continuity and splendor of the exhibition as a whole; perfection. It gets busy and if it had been any busier we would have felt cramped but, it had a lovely atmosphere, all ages sharing the space together for an hour or two to soak up some mesmerizing talent and beauty. It is a little pricey, it costs £19 for a regular ticket which is definitely a little more than most exhibitions in the city, but is it worth it? Yes, I’d say it is, but only just. A few pounds cheaper would seem a better price. Shown in a reverse chronological order, we see the best images from the magazine now, and go all the way back, through the decade dedicated rooms, to it’s launch in 1916. My favourite section? It has to be the 1990’s room where we saw the start of Kate Moss’s career, the photography of Corinne Day and the familiar faces of Princess Diana and Posh and Becks in their heyday. My era. Loved it. Get yourself there before it ends on 22nd May and let me know your favourite era of this massive magazine.

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Getting to Know Knitwear

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Ooof! If there’s one thing I love about the colder weather that’s creeping in, it’s getting all cosy with knitwear and so it was without hesitation that as Autumn started showing it’s blustery face I swooped down to the beautiful Bermondsey to take in the latest exhibition at The Fashion and Textile Museum; called KNITWEAR, Chanel to Westwood. I’ve not been to an exhibition at this place which I haven’t adored, it’s the most informal, welcoming and relaxed atmosphere and the size of the exhibition space means that each show is perfectly digestible and you don’t need to spend hours making sure you’ve seen everything there is to see. Although that being said, I get the feeling that staff wouldn’t mind one bit if you fancied lingering the whole day long looking at the fashion on display. Sometimes with the more epic fashion exhibitions at venues such as the V & A, it can be kinda overwhelming and you feel like you need to invest the bulk of your day taking in all the sights and remembering all the information you are learning. Sometimes, that’s great, you wanna loose yourself in a magical exhibition, in an amazing venue for hours and hours, but, there’s a lot to be said for those small and perfectly formed exhibitions in smaller places which can be enjoyed as part of your day rather than as all of it. For me, this is where The Fashion and Textile Museum excel.
This exhibition was a super display of knitted fashions spanning the last century and, was interestingly predominantly made up of the personal collection of Mark and Cleo Butterfield. It was more a showing off of their vast and spectacular collection than a timeline of knitting, allowing the whole thing to feel slightly more light-heated than historically rigid. With amaaaazing examples on show, we get to see the journey of knitwear; it’s early use for warmth and function, knitted swimwear and evening dresses of the 1920’s, the ‘make do and mend’ trend for unravelling jumpers to use the yarn again, embellished angora sweaters from the 50’s, futuristic knits from the likes of Couregges in the 60’s, novelty and folklore knits in the 70’s and the experimental bold knitwear from the 80’s! This exhibition is thorough without being too heavy and you get a really good grasp of knitwear and it’s past, there’s plenty to swoon over, especially, for me, the 1920’s fine knit gowns! The layout was a bit dark for me, the displays were sectioned into large wooden shipping crates, with some piled two high so it pulled the small space in quite close and felt a bit gloomy, but, the actual garments themselves were all pretty well lit and what I always like about this place is you can peep your eyes up real close to the displays and see every stitch! A gorgeous exhibition that leaves me gasping to get a look at more of Cleo and Marks incredibly large private collection of vintage fashion….. making mine just seem teeny in comparison.

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 KNITWEAR, Chanel to Westwood is on at the FTM until 18th January 2015

To find out more about Cleo and Mark Butterfield visit their blog

Too Much of a Good Thing is Wonderful

“I don’t dress this way to go unnoticed”

On my recent American road-trip holiday, we spent three days in Las Vegas. I was last in Vegas when I was 21 and this time my memories aren’t as fond; it was busier, stinkier, hotter and tackier than ever. Too many stag do’s, drunken business trips, and voyeuristic tourists have turned this magical kitsch city into a bad night in a sweaty nightclub. Alas, it appears that any glamour has long gone. But, luckily, as I was walking past The Cosmopolitan hotel and casino, I saw a sparkle of the city’s past glamour; in a small but perfectly formed exhibition showcasing the sequin festooned stage outfits of pianist Liberace. Phew.lib15alib16alib20a

In Las Vegas, both now and in it’s heyday, it seems that the bigger, the tackier, the more brash, indulgent and extravagant; the better. And who better to have lived by this idea than glittering entertainer Liberace. I don’t know a lot about him, I know he was a child prodigy on the piano, I know he was camp and theatrical and that between the 50’s and 70’s he was the highest paid entertainer in the world, wowzers. Liberace’s love affair with flamboyance began when, as a younger man he was watching pianist Hildegarde and was told ‘you’ve got to get a gimmick‘. Liberace then went and bought a gold candelabra from a thrift store and placed it on top of his piano whilst performing. This was just the start, his signature style of kitsch European opulence was born. Much of his career was spent playing residencies in Vegas at hotels such as Flamingo where I stayed, and up until 3 years ago there was a permanent museum in the city dedicated just to him. It would seem that Liberace and Las Vegas go hand in hand, this ace pop-up exhibition at Cosmopolitan celebrated the over the top, in your face, bedazzling style that you would expect from America’s most garish city. The title of the exhibition states it perfectly;

‘Too much of a good thing is wonderful: Liberace and The Art of Costume’

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King Neptune Suit

This suit dazzled audiences around the country and was replicated for the recent movie ‘Behind The Candelabra’. The beads elaborately create the look of waves, shells and sea coral.

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‘Rhinestone Suit’

Whoosh, someone went crazy with the rhinestones on this one. As with many of his suits this is made from a sturdy polyester gabardine but the embellishments completely cover the utility fabric. The crystal rhinestones are rim set- a now obsolete technique that encloses the stone within a circular mount and then attaches it to the fabric.

collagelib3‘Purple and Phoenix Suit’   

Liberace sure knew how to make an entrance and at Radio City Music Hall in 1986 he came onto the stage from above- showcasing this suits bird motif and glittering plumage! The birds are outlined in crystal seed beads and pink French curled Ostrich feathers make up their tails. Feathers featured in many of his costumes, making it hard for preserving the collection.

collagelib4‘Matador Suit and Cape’

Crikey this one’s pretty glam! Liberace wore this costume for his 1981 performances in Mexico City. The elaborate sequin work on the cape is accomplished with the now obsolete Cornely machine, a chain stitch machine which allowed the individual application of beads and sequins.

collagelib5‘Hapsburg-inspired Suit and Cape’ 

This rather camp ensemble was designed by Michael Travis in 1983, it features a double headed Eagle associated with the rulers of the Austrian Empire; The Hapsburgs. Heavily appliqued using gold lame and bands of gold bugle beads to make up it’s lavish appearance. The cape is trimmed in Sable fur.

collagelib6‘Red, White and Blue Hot Pants Ensemble’

Woah, it doesn’t get much more American than this! Liberace wore this rather patriotic number in 1986 as a tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty. The embellishments of silver bugle beads and crystals give the illusion of separate garments but it is in fact a jumpsuit, making costume changes easier. Audiences loved how this suit demonstrated Liberace’s wonderful sense of humour.

collagelib7‘Christmas Suit and Cape’

I wish Father Christmas was real and that he wore this. In 1980 Liberace wore this gabardine and white fox cape for his Christmas shows at Las Vegas Hilton. The cape demonstrates the skill of Anna Nateece, a Greek born fur designer, the cape was entirely lined in silver sequins…oh my!

This pop-up exhibition was a delight, a perfectly delivered slice of old style Vegas glamour, the Vegas I treasure, where neon signs were a novelty, people dressed up for the shows and casinos, and when a trip to this city was a glistening indulgence. There are rumours that the permanent Liberace Museum (it was open for 31 years and closed in the recession) will reopen in a new downtown location, which would be marvelous, you gotta admit that this guy had some pretty exciting style and it would be a real shame to hide that away in this sequin-celebrating city.