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Dries van noten—inspirations

Gormally, Mary Frances


Mary Frances Gormally


“Dries Van Noten – Inspirations”. Exhibition at Musee Des Arts Decoratifs, Paris, March 1st -November 2nd 2014.
This 5,000 word commissioned illustrated article asks fundamental questions about the role of fashion exhibitions in the twenty first century. This is the first exhibition of the globally acknowledged fashion designer Dries Van Noten. The article describes and critically analyses for the reader what was encountered in the exhibition, considering exhibiting spaces, vitrine arrangements, caption details and, importantly, the success or otherwise of the stated curatorial thesis. Among the numbers of issues I raise about fashion exhibitions are my concerns about the uses of certain works of art as the backdrops to the displayed Dries ensembles and couture garments in the exhibition. I argue that in this exhibition the postmodernist ambition of this curator, Pamela Golbin, to display all the arts and popular culture “without hierarchy”, out of context, and out of history, fails to convince, to educate, or to excite. I raise concerns about the exhibition’s narrative, the language of captions that insistently detaches matters fashion design from the broader context of political, economic, social, and cultural histories. This scholarship rigorously participates in the ongoing debates among curators, fashion historians, practitioners and scholars in this field, and actively seeks to redress the visual essentialism that rightly concerns some scholars in visual culture studies and education.

Key Words:
Dries Van Noten, Designers, Textile Sources, Embellishments sourced in Calcutta, Uses of Couture Garments, Fine Art, Artifacts, Vitrine arrangements, Caption details, Curatorial Thesis.


Gormally, M. F. (2015). Dries van noten—inspirations. Fashion Theory, 19(4), 549-561.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 27, 2015
Online Publication Date Jul 30, 2015
Publication Date Jul 27, 2015
Journal Fashion Theory
Print ISSN 1362-704X
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 19
Issue 4
Pages 549-561
Keywords Dries Van Noten, designers, textile sources, embellishments sourced in Calcutta, uses of couture garments, fine art, artifacts, vitrine arrangements, caption details, curatorial thesis
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