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Fashion-Focused Museum Exhibits

Three exhibitions of photographs, films and fashion from Annie Lenox's union jack pant-suit to Daphne Guiness' personal McQueen collection

by Laura Neilson
on 27 September 2011

With the Spring/Summer 2012 Fashion Week in full swing in Europe right now, groundbreaking style is taking center stage on more than just the runways. While "Fashion in Italy: 150 Years of Elegance," celebrates the country's long-term evolution in styles and trends, and the birth of Italian prêt-a-porter, here are three more fashion-focused exhibits going on at museums around the globe.

Lennox-Union-Jack.jpg Lennox-Evening-Dress.jpg
The House of Annie Lennox at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Like many musical artists before and after her, Annie Lenox seamlessly integrated a unique personal style with her work as a musician to create an iconic pop star persona. This one-room installation, created in collaboration with Lenox herself, features photographs, costumes, and various mementos and ephemera chronicling the Scottish-born songstress' four-decade career, including her years as one-half of the Eurythmics before continuing on as a solo artist. The collection presents Lennox's personal style as one that dances between both genders. Though glam rockers Elton John and David Bowie most often cited for their Brit-inspired ensembles, visitors will be pleased to see the vivid union jack menswear-style suit, which she donned in 1999, alongside dazzling sequined dresses. Open through 26 February 2012.

Issey-Flying-Saucer.jpg Issey-2.jpg
Irving Penn and Issey Miyake: Visual Dialogue at 21 21 Design Sight, Tokyo

Encompassing 13 years and more than 250 photographs, the artistic partnership between Irving Penn and Issey Miyake, two creative giants in their respective fields, was an unlikely and curious one. After seeing Penn's photographs of his garments in an American Vogue editorial, the Japanese designer asked Penn to shoot his entire collections, which he did from 1987 through 1999, resulting in an incredibly comprehensive compendium of images. What's even more impressive is that during their 13-year collaboration, Miyake and Penn chose not to interfere with each other's process. Miyake shipped his collections to New York, giving Penn complete artistic license during his photo sessions, while Penn never attended any of Miyake's runway presentations. In addition to photographs from this period, the exhibition also includes an animated film short by cartoonist Michael Crawford. Open through 8 April 2012.

Guiness-1.jpg Guiness-2.jpg
Daphne Guinness at the Museum at FIT, New York

Thanks in part to the recent, record-breaking Alexander McQueen show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Daphne Guinness, a friend and steadfast patron of the late designer, has become a popularly-known figure for her boundary-pushing taste. A champion of emerging designers, specifically those who embody a dark, avant-garde aesthetic (such as McQueen and Gareth Pugh), the brewery heiress' has contributed 100 pieces from her own closet, including haute couture ensembles from Chanel, Givenchy, Lacroix and Valentino, as well as two dozen Alexander McQueen garments that have never been on display before. Accessories aren't any less dramatic: consider her signature soaring heel-less platform shoes, or her dazzling "body armor" jewelry for a lesson in how not to be a wallflower. Several films by Guinness are also on display, including "The Phenomenology of the Body," an examination of the politics of clothing. Open through 7 January 2012.

Images in order from top courtesy of Image © V&A/La Lennoxa, The Irving Penn Foundation and The Museum at FIT.

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