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The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined

The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined is the first exhibition to consider the compelling territory of taste and the provocative images that the word vulgar conjures up. Questioning notions of vulgarity in fashion while revelling in its excesses, the exhibition invites the visitor to consider what makes something vulgar and what does not.

Drawing from major public and private collections worldwide, The Vulgar will display designs from contemporary designers such as Chloé, Christian Dior, Moschino and Miuccia Prada, as well as feature a wealth of over 120 stunning exhibits from the Renaissance through to the 21st century. Conceived by exhibition-maker Judith Clark and psychoanalyst Adam Phillips, the show weaves together historic dresses, photography, film and ready-to-wear fashion over a 500 year timeframe, illustrating how taste has evolved.

The Vulgar demonstrates how fashion plays with these notions of taste to create new expressions of style, and looks at fashion’s fascination with vulgarity’s excess. Featuring moments in dress history of extravagance, ostentation and exhibitionism; the collection sets to explore the relationship of fashion to the body, with key pieces including lace and body stockings from Louis Vuitton and Pam Hogg to designs by Vivienne Westwood, Walter van Beirendock and Stephen Jones.

Some installations are devoted to certain materials, accessories, fashion labels and embellishments that have come to embody, at different times, the supposedly vulgar; such as gold, velvet, pearls and spangles.

To complement The Vulgar exhibition, the Barbican Cinemas will host Cheap Thrills: Movies, Films and the Art of Transgression, a major new film season dedicated to films of bad taste.

Read the full press release in our newsroom.

The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined takes place from 13 October 2016–5 February 2017.