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

Meeting Manolo Blahnik; My High Heel Hero

 

blondieanchors_manoloblahnik-copyIt’s true. Some girls don’t wear high heels very often. Some girls prefer to have flat and comfortable feet. Can you believe it? I am not that girl, I mean, heck yeah I run around in my tatty Converse on an average day but, I’m a girl who likes her heels, and walking around a city all day with height is something I am known to do. Call me cray-cray, but I’ll suffer a little if it means I can get my sass on and feel like I’m strutting. I like that feeling. The strut. Not the ache and rub. But I’ll endure. I enjoy wearing heels, I genuinely do.

So when the V&A announced ‘An Evening with Manolo Blahnik’ I hot-footed it down to that place pronto, to meet in person, the ‘Holy Man of Heels’! After my gorgeous evening here with Cindy Crawford, I know these V&A events are ace; relaxed and informal and a great insight into iconic people. Packed in the small lecture theatre on a Friday night, the audience was, again, mostly women but we were all united, all adorers of this man’s magical SHOES! Swoooon.

Blahnik is a cute guy, a 72 year old Spanish man who gestures so much with his hands that the microphone he was holding was only intermittently near his mouth, so there was a genuine humour to the chat. He was talking with Italian Editor of W Magazine, Gianluca Longo. Watching the two men speak together with moving microphones, neither in their mother tongue was unintentionally and endearingly comical. Blahnik is a funny guy, he reminded me of my German Grandmother with his sweet humour; ‘After the war it was hard, we couldn’t get copies of Vogue’ he said as the room giggled, he too found the funny in his comment.

Blahnik chatted about his inspirations – many from historical references – Italian classicism, museums, ‘I love what the beauty in them tells me’, and old silent movies. His work is exceptionally well-known because of movies and TV. Sex and The city is the biggie which made us all fall even harder in love with his work. His shoes are iconic in status and I adore them. I love them differently to how I love my other favorites; Louboutin’s. Blahnik’s shoes feel more feminine,more theatrical, more enchanting and magical. But I love Louboutin’s equally for their unashamed sexuality and sharpness. I want to own shoes from both designers. OBVS.

Asked why he became a Shoe Designer, he seemed to feel he always had a natural obsession with shoes. He remembers his Mother going out in heels. I guess we all see our Mother’s shoes from close-up when we are young and it triggers a fascination. I personally remember drawing a smiley face into a hole in my Mum’s tights when she was standing doing the washing up. What we look at when we are young goes towards defining what appeals throughout our lives, I guess. Seeing women wear high heels from a youngsters viewpoint, from a low down angle, it would make sense to grow up loving women’s shoes.

‘My idea of fun was watching women in heels, they become something else in them’ Yes. Yes we do. And in yours Manolo, it’s even more wonderful.

 

Hooray for Hollywood Costume

Most people who like fashion and galleries, are probably aware of the current exhibition at London’s V&A; Hollywood Costume. Billed as a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity to see over 100 of the most iconic costumes in the history of film-making’, my Mother and I arrived with pretty high expectations. And by heck, it certainly didn’t disappoint, this exhibition is nothing short of epic. We arrived in Kensington, had a long lazy coffee and mooched over to the V&A. My goodness it was busy, my lovely Mama is a member of the V&A which is amazing value and gets you into the exhibitions free and ahead of the queues, phew! It was bustling! I knew the exhibition had three main rooms but I had no idea how huge this show was. All three rooms were grand in size and both the curation and the styling was beyond superb. Every costume was given room to breathe, they were not behind glass which was great to see, but the security was understandably hot, no photos and no touching! The lighting was perfection, pretty dark with just the outfits given the spotlights. The information on each movie, character, designer, director and actor was really thorough and the time it took to go through the whole exhibition made us feel, at the end, as if we had been on a magical movie journey. We went into the V&A in crisp autumn daylight, and came out into the dark of the evening. Wow. We were totally absorbed and were completely unaware of time, exactly like that wonderful feeling you get after being in the movie theatre, you come back outside to real life, having just spent time in another world, gorgeous.

The amount, the variety and the provenance of all the costumes on display was literally awesome. Seeing a dress worn by Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, or Vivien Leigh on it’s own would be a great delight, but this exhibition houses pretty much every iconic outfit you could think of. From the beginning of movie history, up to the most recent Hollywood blockbuster, this has everything. It’s great for girls, guys, kids and older people, every single person who visits will undoubtedly see a costume that they have always loved.

One of the main draws of this show was the legendary costume from The Wizard of OZ, most especially the ruby slippers that Judy Garland wore in the film. This was the first time the shoes had ever been on display outside of the USA. Exhibition curator Deborah Nadoolman took 5 years to secure the loan of the shoes from the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington. Even then, they were only loaned for a very limited time, so that they could be back in their original home in time for Thanksgiving. The Wizard of Oz is shown every year in the USA as a Thanksgiving tradition. My Mother and I saw the shoes on their last day at the V&A, yay! At the very end of the gigantic exhibition, there they were, in a small glass case all on their own. Oh my, how we gazed upon them. Not as bright and vivid as they appear in the film, the deep red shoes made my heart skip a beat, so much history and value right there in a little pair of beaten up shoes. The shoes in the movie were originally going to be silver, but got changed to red at the last moment so they would be a bolder contrast to the yellow brick road. The ones we saw have since been replaced with replica shoes-made by the same company who made the originals-for the remainder of the exhibition.

With so very many amazing costumes on display and without wanting to spoil the fun for those who are yet to visit, it’s hard to choose which ones delighted me the most, but here is my pick of the exhibition.

Below is the green velvet dress that Vivian Leigh wore in ‘Gone with the Wind’, 1939.

Tippi Hedren’s suit from Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’, 1963.

My absolute favourite dress in the show, Joan Crawford’s rich red beaded gown from ‘The Bride Wore Red’, 1937.

I was pretty much mostly loving the 1930’s looks, both the original and this silk green modern one from ‘Atonement’, 2007, worn by Kiera Knightly.

Similar to thr red Joan Crawford gown, also designed by Hollywood costumier Adrian, this silver caped and beaded 1930’s dress was another one I fell in love with. From the movie, ‘My Man Godfrey’, 1936, worn by Carole Lombard.

And of course, the classic, simple, and most iconic movie outfit worn by Judy Garland in ‘The Wizard of Oz’, 1939.

Go see this exhibition, it is gob smackingly beautiful, dreamy, nostalgic, stunning, exciting, glamorous and wonderful. It is on until 27th January 2013.

 For more information visit www.vam.ac.uk/hollywoodcostume