Visit London Blog » V&A Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 22 May 2015 17:44:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the V&A Tue, 17 Mar 2015 12:13:58 +0000 Alexander McQueen exhibition at the V&A

Alexander McQueen exhibition at the V&A

Following its record-breaking success at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Alexander McQueen exhibition makes its ‘homecoming’ at the V&A, but this exhibition goes well beyond fashion; it takes you down the rabbit hole of McQueen’s dark imagination.

Savage Beauty is an exhibition that eases you into things. It starts where McQueen did, in London, where his father was a taxi driver and McQueen learned the tools of his trade at Central St Martins and on Savile Row.

His talent for the nuts and bolts of fashion design, his technical skill, is on full display from the outset, as beautifully tailored jackets and items made from feathers and slashed leather are shown in the simplest room of the exhibition. The only hint of what’s to come is McQueen’s unmistakably cockney-accented voice, disembodied and echoing around the room.

It is testament to the curator Claire Wilcox’s ambition and talent that the exhibition goes beyond the clothes and into the mind of this beguiling artistic genius. Each room mirrors (and there are plenty of mirrors) a theme from McQueen’s work. You are soon plunged headfirst into the darker aspects of his psyche: a cave of bones and skulls feels like being taken underwater, where clothes inspired by African tribes are displayed to the sound of beating drums.

From here you enter a wood panelled room lifted straight from a Stanley Kubrick movie. The clothes should be dancing around a Victorian masquerade ball, seen through the prism of McQueen’s imagination. Here are the magnificent tartans and Victorian ball gowns that draw upon McQueen’s fascination with British and Scottish heritage. The controversy of his Highland Rape A/W show of 1995 on display, but with the edges firmly sanded off for the V&A audience.

Alexander McQueen exhibition at the V&A

Alexander McQueen exhibition at the V&A


Things then go up in scale, as you enter the central Cabinet of Curiosities, where pieces are piled so high up on four walls that it is impossible to take them all in. Here you get to see many of the famous accessories, including headgear made by Philip Treacy into a mesh of Swarovski crystals, a crown of butterflies and a hand-carved wooden Japanese garden. Your attention is drawn from all angles, particularly by screens showing clips from McQueen’s theatrical catwalk shows. Models walk on water, dance like puppets and are engulfed in flames to the thump of dance music.

A middle room gives a sudden changes of pace, as Kate Moss is conjured from nothing into a twisting, angelic figure, clad in flowing white silk, before contracting back into an exploding star. It’s a neat piece of hologram work, but it doesn’t quite fit within the greater context of the exhibition.

It’s good then that you are thrust back into McQueen’s world, with his Japanese-influenced works set upon twirling mannequins, set deep in mirrored alcoves. The twinkling music and twisting figures gives the impression of walking into a Japanese music box.

Finally, McQueen’s natural designs are given a clean space, with singing birds in the background and hand-stenciled walls of flowers, birds, babies and skulls (nature and death are McQueen’s most enduring, interconnected themes) giving the backdrop to an astounding dress made from silk and dried flowers and a gown made of lacquered razor clam shells.

As can be expected, the final room is an all-out aural assault. It is a tribute to McQueen’s last show, Plato’s Atlantis, and is the coalescence of his creative genius. Fashion, music and video installation combine for a fitting finale to a show that leaves your eyes delighted, your ears ringing and your head spinning.

Until 2 Aug

The V&A

The V&A


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Things To Do During London Fashion Week Tue, 09 Sep 2014 09:00:37 +0000 Guest post by Fashion City Insider

Muriel Maxwell, American Vogue Cover, 1 July 1939. Copyright: Conde Nast/ Horst Estate.

Muriel Maxwell, American Vogue Cover, 1 July 1939. Copyright: Conde Nast/ Horst Estate. Part of the Horst: Photographer of Style exhibition.

London Fashion Week, the biggest event in London’s annual fashion calendar, is taking place from 12 to 16 September. For those without access to the much-coveted affair, here’s a round-up of the top fashion-related happenings that you can enjoy:

Sleeveless, side buttoned heather grey knitted ensemble, US Vogue Feb 1947 by Horst P. Horst. Copyright: Conde Nast Archive/ Corbis

Sleeveless, side buttoned heather grey knitted ensemble, US Vogue Feb 1947 by Horst P. Horst. Copyright: Conde Nast Archive/ Corbis

Knitwear Chanel to Westwood Exhibition 

Make amends for missing out on the front row by strutting your stuff at the major fashion exhibitions currently on in the city. The Fashion and Textile Museum’s Knitwear Chanel to Westwood exhibition (19 Sep-18 Jan 2015), features knitwear pieces from some of the fashion world’s finest designers and explores the effects of punk and deconstruction on 20th century fashion design. If charting fashion evolution tickles your fancy, Wedding Dresses 1775–2014 is also running until March 2015 at the V&A. Here you’ll see more of Westwood’s work, as well as showstopping creations from the likes of Vera Wang and John Galliano.

Impossible Catwalk Shows

For a unique take on the Fashion Week phenomena, visit the Fashion Space Gallery at the London College of Fashion and see Simon Costin’s Impossible Catwalk Shows. Opening on the first day of London Fashion Week, exchange the real catwalk experience for Costin’s own bizarre interpretations where the possibilities are endless. Until 13 Dec

When Art Meets Fashion

From 6 September visit the V&A’s latest blockbuster exhibition Horst: Photographer of Style with prints, drawings and notebooks from the legendary fashion photographer. Gallery 8 is also exploring fashion in a different medium with their Drawing On Style exhibition. Here you can view fashion illustrations commissioned for the likes of Vogue and L’Oreal – and you will even get the chance to buy original designs from Dior and Biba! 11-16 Sep

Drawing On Style

Drawing On Style

Inside Coco Chanel’s Apartment

Take a unique chance to explore Coco Chanel’s apartment in Sam Taylor-Johnson’s photographic exhibition for the Saatchi Gallery, that allows visitors to see inside the home of one of fashion’s most iconic figures for the first time. 12-22 Sep

"Second floor" The Private Apartment of Mademoiselle Chanel. Image: Sam Taylor-Johnson

“Second floor” The Private Apartment of Mademoiselle Chanel. Image: Sam Taylor-Johnson

Vintage Fashion Fairs

Over the weekend, take a break from the catwalk and galleries, and shop some iconic vintage wear, proving that it’s not all about new designs, but historic staples too! Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair returns on 14 September from 11am to 5pm. Alexandra Palace also has a Pop Up Vintage Fair happening on the same date from 9.30am to 4.30pm.

Designer Cocktails

After a packed day of activities, an evening during London Fashion Week wouldn’t be complete without a cocktail or two. The Metropolitan Hotel on Old Park Lane is serving up an array of designer inspired cocktails at their Met bar from 16–20 September, with muses including Tom Ford, Paul Smith and Matthew Williamson.

Fashion City Insider is a fashion travel guide. Visit its London pages for more inspiration and tweet them @fashion_cities


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London Video of the Week: War Horse Arrives at the V&A Fri, 07 Feb 2014 11:00:13 +0000

The original West End horse puppet from the National Theatre‘s award-winning show War Horse has been donated to the V&A by the Handspring Puppet Company, who designed and built the puppet. Watch this film to be wowed by the magnificient, life-sized puppet of beloved horse Joey who was operated on stage by three puppeteers. This puppet made his stage debut at the New London Theatre on 28 March 2009. He performed in more than 1,640 shows.

The puppet can be seen in the V&A’s theatre and performance gallery in a special display which shows how he is operated on stage.

War Horse is currently showing at the New London Theatre.


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We asked Twiggy, the world’s first supermodel and a born and bred Londoner, to share her London Story. Watch the video above.

During our interview Twiggy  mentioned more of her favourite London experiences and  we’ve used this to populate our homepage from 28 to 30 January.

Here’s Twiggy’s top five London experiences:

24 Hours in London? Visit South Bank

“Start at Waterloo Bridge, walk along the South Bank, because you get all the views of the other side of London which is the lovely old part. Then you can walk past The National Theatre and all the little cafes and most weekends there are street fairs and it is brilliant. Then you go along to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and before the Globe is Tate Modern and the OXO Tower, there are so many things to do. Then cross over the Millennium walking bridge and you’ve got that view of St Paul’s. I’ve done filming of London for America and we always do a shot on the Millennium Bridge because of the view of St Paul’s Cathedral. You’ve got to visit St Paul’s and then in the evening go to the theatre and a restaurant – we’ve got some of the best restaurants in the world.”

Royal Albert Hall

“I have lots of very fond memories of lots of wonderful places in London. One has to be the Royal Albert Hall because (you won’t believe this) but I played it one night. I did a concert tour in the 70s and the Royal Albert Hall was one of the dates, and that was scary! To walk out on the stage of the Royal Albert Hall is quite awe inspiring and I live very near there so every time I walk past, the memories are extraordinary, I’ll never forget that night as long as I live.”

Shopping: Established areas and emerging talent

“What girl doesn’t love shopping and London is the best. We’ve always been the best in fashion, I think. You’ve got everything here, whatever your budget is and we’ve got amazing shopping streets; Bond Street, Regent Street, Knightsbridge. I go walking to Kensington, Chelsea and the little shops. Then you’ve got all the new shops in Brick Lane, Shoreditch, all the lovely markets, it’s brilliant.

I think London is a brilliant place for giving new, young talent a chance. I think that is how the Brick Lane, Shoreditch area grew up, really. Young designers and artists moved there and that has grown up out of that world. It’s still the lovely old part of London which is the bit I love, all the Georgian and Victorian houses and streets.”

The V&A

“The Victoria & Albert Museum in Knightsbridge is probably my favourite museum because it really is extraordinary and for me, because of my designing and my love of clothes, this museum has got everything. One of my memories is of the Indian Jewellery room. I remember coming in 25 years ago and there was a pale pink rock and it was an uncut ruby and I’ve never forgotten it.

You can come into this museum and lose yourself for hours and [it’s great] if you want to do research on fashion and clothes. I’ve worked with great designers in the past and they’ve made clothes for me that have been shown here. The V&A does wonderful special exhibitions and the Museum itself is free to everyone – what more could you ask for?

The House Of Leonard, Mayfair

Twiggy got her big break in modelling in the mid 60s at the age of 14: “Somebody saw me who worked on a magazine and they sent me to have my hair done at a very posh salon in Mayfair, The House of Leonard. Leonard cut my hair in that very short, boyish cut and said he wanted to photograph the haircut. He got Barry Lategan to photograph me. He hung the picture in his salon. I went back to school and that’s all it should have been. A journalist who was also a customer in the salon, saw the picture and said, ‘who is the girl?’ and Leonard said, ‘it’s a young schoolgirl, her nickname is Twiggy’. She said ‘I want to meet her’ and two weeks later she wrote a huge article about me naming me the Face of ’66. That was the day my life changed forever.”

The House of Leonard was in Upper Grosvenor Street, Mayfair, W1, next door to which you’ll find the Moroccan Embassy today. Although the salon itself is long gone, you can still walk around the area and see where the magic happened.

You’ll discover more stories and enter a competition to win a fantastic stay in London at #TheLondonStory

What are your recommendations for visitors to London?

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Top Art Exhibitions to See in London in 2014 Fri, 27 Dec 2013 10:00:35 +0000 2014 is set to be an exciting year with plenty of blockbuster exhibitions planned across the capital. From art to architecture, collage to contemporary, don’t miss these fantastic exhibitions.

Henri Matisse Cut-Outs

Tate Modern, 17 Apr-7 Sep 2014

While Matisse became famous for his use of bright colours and simplified use of line, towards the end of his illustrious career he gradually became blind which left him unable to continue with these types of paintings. To remedy this he chose instead to work with cut-out shapes. These wonderful mature works live on in collage and will be available to view this summer at the Tate Modern.

Sensing Spaces: Architecture Re-imagined

Royal Academy of Arts, 25 Jan–6 Apr 2014

The unmissable opening 2014 exhibition at The Royal Academy of Arts will be entirely experiential. Involving unique commissions from seven internationally-renowned architecture firms, Sensing Spaces explores how visitors respond to environments, buildings and spaces. There will be six installations, each re-imagining the boundaries between art and architecture and how visitors might interpret what they see, feel, hear and smell.

Late Turner: Painting Set Free

Tate Britain, 10 Sep 2014 – 25 Jan 2015

This exhibition at the Tate Britain will pay tribute to the revolutionary work of Turner whose late landscapes depicted studies of light and atmosphere where the air becomes misty, the light ethereal, and where the land evaporates into the sky. This exhibition is dedicated to Turner’s later works – all produced after the artist turned 60 and covering

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the period 1835-50. A star of the show will be Turner’s masterpiece Rain, Steam, and Speed – The Great Western Railway from 1844 which depicts a hare seemingly in a race with a steam train as it puffs through a rain storm.

Martin Creed

Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, 29 Jan– 27 Apr 2014

Famous for his Turner Prize-winning piece (Work No. 227, the lights going on and off, 2001), Martin Creed is an artist that people tend to either love or hate. This new exhibition at the Hayward Gallery is your chance to make your mind up about his highly conceptual art. Throughout the duration of the show there will be a spattering of events at which that Creed plays live, which may even include a song counting from 1 to 100.

The Great War in Portraits

National Portrait Gallery, 27 Feb-15 Jun 2014

One of the first events in London commemorating the World War I centenary is the National Portrait Gallery’s The Great War in Portraits show. Rather than focus on war-torn landscape pictures, this exhibition will tell the story of the Great War in images of people. With artists including Ludwig Kirchner and William Orpen’s self-portraits from their time in the army, and more Expressionist works providing a window into the political and psychological turmoil experienced, this will be a revealing show.

Vikings: Life and Legend

British Museum, 6 March – 22 June 2014

How did the Vikings change the history of Britain? The British Museum sets out to explore exactly that with its major 2014 exhibition Vikings: Life and Legend. With important and delicate artefacts on loan from Denmark and Scandinavia, this show is set to redefine how we perceive the Vikings. Often portrayed as violent thugs, The Vikings were actually an enterprising, often-nomadic civilisation who commanded more communities via their trade routes than any other established people of the same era in the British Isles or Europe. Quite apart from an educational experience, there will be gold and jewels on display, as well as impressive fragments of an original Viking longboat, transported for the first time from Denmark.

Constable: The Making of a Master

Victoria & Albert Museum, 20 Sep 2014 – 11 Jan 2015

John Constable’s The Hay Wain, is one of the most famous paintings in London’s National Gallery and one that tourists flock to see. And though it won’t move far in 2014, it will form part of a revealing display at the V&A. This and a select group of masterpieces form the centrepiece of this show, while Constable’s early oil sketches tell us how he evolved to become such a reputable painter. Unequalled in his portrayal of the natural landscape, this is a rare chance to get behind Constable’s famous works and learn more about the man.


National Gallery, 18 Jun-7 Sep 2014

The perfect introduction to how painting evolved throughout the centuries. Using its vast collection to tell the story of colour, this ambitious show at the National Gallery spans 700 years; each room devoted to one colour. So, whether you’re interested in colour theory, the chemistry of pigments and their production, or how brush-strokes form a picture on the canvas, this exhibition will cover it all.

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London Theatre News: War Horse, Grease 2, Dinosaur Zoo, The Pride, Versailles, Privacy, Fathers and Sons, The Only Way is Downton Wed, 30 Oct 2013 11:22:19 +0000

War Horse’s Joey on Display at V&A

If you’re in awe of the puppetry in War Horse, you can take a closer look at leading horse Joey at the V&A Museum as the original West End puppet is now on display, and boy does he look striking.

Theatre Awards

Joey has won his fair share of awards, and we’re getting near that season of prize-giving again. The Evening Standard Theatre Awards long list has just been announced and it reads like a who’s who of the London stage – or the most glamorous dinner party guest list you’re ever likely to see. Among the big names in the running are Judi Dench, Kristin Scott Thomas and Adrian Lester.

Donmar Warehouse Spring Season Revealed

Powerhouse play producer the Donmar Warehouse has announced its 2014 spring season, leading with two new plays. The first, the latest from writer/director Peter Gill, is called Versailles and is set around the signing of the famous post-WWI treaty. Its cast includes emerging star Tom Hughes, who was brilliant in TV series Dancing On The Edge, and Pat And Cabbage star Barbara Flynn. Privacy, the new play from Olivier Award-nominee James Graham follows, with the season concluding with a revival of Brian Friel’s Fathers And Sons.

Grease 2 Concert and Dinosaur Zoo

On a marginally less high-brow but no less exciting note, a stage version of Grease 2 will get a concert staging at the Lyric Theatre next year – the perfect night for all cool riders or girls for all seasons. Meanwhile, Dinosaur Zoo,which was a roaring success at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre this summer, is coming to the Phoenix Theatre for Christmas.

The Pride Extends Season

If you’ve not seen Hayley Atwell and co in The Pride yet, don’t miss your chance. This award-winning play about prejudice and love has just extended its run at Trafalgar Studios to 23 November. At the venue’s smaller Studio 2, 2014 offers the chance to see a one-man impression show telling the story of what happens when the inhabitants of Downton Abbey have to turn to 2013’s celebrities to save their family home in The Only Way Is Downton.

  • This is a Guest Post by Official London Theatre, the premier website for London theatre. With the latest news, fantastic features, comprehensive listings & incredible offers it is your one-stop shop for everything about the theatre capital of the world.


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What’s On In London This Weekend: 19-21 October 2012 Thu, 18 Oct 2012 14:20:34 +0000

There are lots of new exhibitions opening this weekend, giving you the chance to learn about everything from how your favourite film characters got their look to why the humble trainer plays such a big part in popular culture. Alternatively, the excellent Bloomsbury Festival is the perfect chance to explore the area’s many cultural venues and expand your mind at special events.

Bloomsbury Festival, Various Venues
This two day festival is a wonderful chance to experience the thriving culture of historic Bloomsbury, which was made famous by prominent literary figures of the early 20th century. There are special activities at many of the great venues in the area, ranging from drawing sessions at the British Museum to bug-themed games at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. If you can’t decide, head to Russell Square for a varied programme of entertainment that includes poetry, dance and even maths buskers. 19-21 Oct

Hollywood costume at the V&A
Costumes are an essential part of a film character’s personality, and you can discover the complex process behind their creation at this intriguing exhibition. Using a variety of media, including exclusive interview footage, the exhibition takes visitors through every aspect of the costume designer’s job, before treating them to a stunning display of famous movie outfits. Adult tickets are £15.50. Until 27 Jan

Sneaking into Fashion, Covent Garden Piazza
Get a whiff of sporting fashion at this entertaining free exhibition, which traces the adoption of trainers into popular culture. Visitors can admire a range of celebrities’ trainers, including those made famous by Mo Farah, Kanye West and Vivienne Westwood. The exhibition is open from 9am-7pm every day in the Covent Garden Piazza. Until 28 Oct

Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012 at the National History Museum
The best 100 wildlife images, selected from more than 48,000 international entries, are displayed in this renowned annual exhibition. Visitors will see thought-provoking works that cover the entire spectrum of the natural world, including the competition-winning photograph, which is due to be unveiled today. Adult tickets are £10. Until 3 Mar

Michael Clark Company: New Work at the Barbican Theatre
See the hotly-anticipated new production by legendary British dancer and choreographer Michael Clark at the Barbican Theatre. This double bill of dance combines classical ballet with modern choreography and is set to music by Scritti Politti and Relaxed Muscle. The latter will be playing live during the second part of the performance. Tickets start from £16. Until 27 Oct

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Textile Field Comes to the V&A for London Design Festival 2011 Thu, 12 May 2011 14:51:01 +0000 Award-winning architects AL_A will create an installation at the entrance to the Victoria and Albert Museum Textile Field: The Bouroullec Brothers' designs for the V&A's Raphael Gallery The Finnish Institute in London will present Reddress, designed by Aamu Song Noma Bar will open a workshop where you can make your own artworks based on his designs, using a giant hole punch Noma Bar's Night Train to London was inspired by a sleeping passenger on a train John Pawson will create a metal and Swarovski crystal installation on this geometric staircase at St Paul's Cathedral

Ever fancied relaxing on the floor of the V&A and contemplating the artworks? That’s exactly what visitors will be encouraged to do during this year’s London Design Festival.

French design duo the Bouroullec Brothers will cover the museum’s Raphael Gallery with a coloured foam and textile installation.

“It’s a really huge installation,” said Erwan Bouroullec. “I was born in the countryside so it’s a textile field. It’s quite soft so people will walk and lie on it.”

Other highlights of the festival include:

  • A dramatic new installation at the entrance to the V&A
  • Power of Making, a V&A and Crafts Council exhibition aiming to bring visitors closer to the process of making things
  • Reddress, an enormous dress made from 550m of fabric, which will be worn by a performer and fit an audience of 238 people inside its folds
  • A workshop where you’ll be able to create your own prints designed by Israeli illustrator Noma Bar using a giant hole punch
  • A Swarovski crystal installation by John Pawson in a tower of St Paul’s Cathedral that’s is normally closed to the public

In total, there are expected to be around 250 events across London. “Every year we try to be different and better and more inspiring,” said festival director Ben Evans.

London Design Festival runs from 17 to 25 September. For more details visit

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British Museum, Leighton House and V&A in Running for £100,000 Art Fund Prize Wed, 02 Feb 2011 20:00:32 +0000 The list of 10 museums in the running for the prestigious “Museum of the Year” accolade has been announced.

Congratulations to three London museums: the British Museum, Leighton House and the Victoria and Albert Museum, who are all on the list hoping to win the UK’s largest arts prize – the Art Fund Prize 2011.

The Art Fund Prize rewards excellence and innovation in museums and galleries in the UK for a particular project completed or undertaken in 2010. Following a short list of four museums (announced on 19 May), the £100,000 cash prize will be awarded to the “Museum of the Year” at a ceremony on 15 June.

The 10 UK museums have been long listed for the following projects:

  • British Museum, London, A History of the World
  • Hertford Museum, Hertfordshire, Hertford Museum’s Development Project
  • Leighton House, London, Closer To Home: The Restoration and Reopening of Leighton House Museum
  • Mostyn, Llandudno, Wales, Refurbishment and extension of Mostyn gallery
  • People’s History Museum, Manchester, The new People’s History Museum 2010
  • Polar Museum, University of Cambridge, Promoting Britain’s Polar Heritage
  • The new Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Alloway, Scotland
  • Roman Baths Museum, Bath, Roman Baths Development
  • V&A, London, Ceramics Study Galleries
  • Yorkshire Museum, York, Letting in the Light – Revitalising the Yorkshire Museum for the 21st century

While the final decision will be made by an expert panel of judges, you’re invited to get involved in the debate as to who should win too. Visit and tell the judges which is your favourite museum. You can also keep up-to-date with the debate on twitter @artfundprize.

Who do you think should win? Let us know in the comments below!

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London Exhibitions: Last Chance to See Fri, 07 Jan 2011 16:03:17 +0000

If you’ve been meaning to see Gauguin at Tate Modern or Diaghilev at the V&A, now’s your last chance. Many high-profile London exhibitions are closing over the next fortnight to make way for exciting new shows.

These exhibitions are all in their final days – catch them while you can!

Closing 9 January 2011:

Closing 16 January 2011:

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