Wednesday, 11 September 2019

SMUK. Decorative techniques in fashion: a show-off

Fashion Museum Hasselt is preparing for SMUK
On october 12 Fashion Museum Hasselt launches 'SMUK. Decorative techniques in fashion: a show-off', an interactive world full of splendour.
This new exhibition covers both historical and contemporary decorative techniques that are characteristic of luxury fashion. The exhibition will show clothing, accessories and couture adorned with embroidery, feathers, pearls, stones, sequins, shells and other curiosities. And it is not only recognised atelier studios like Hurel, Lesage and Lemarié that will play a central role, visitors will also be involved in the exhibition. In the chambers of wonder, visitors can try out high-quality decorative craftwork.

Alexander McQueen, herfst-winter 2010
© Catwalkpictures
A new perspective on decorative techniques in the (luxury) fashion world
The story of SMUK starts in the eighteenth century: the heyday of the decorated clothing item, and a time in which even gentlemen begin to dress themselves lavishly with embroidered jackets and cardigans. The rococo period is also the time when crafts like le brodeur, le plumassier and le rubanier were described by Diderot and d'Alembert in their Encyclopaedia. These professions are still closely linked to exclusivity and luxury within the fashion world and haute couture.

The industrial revolution in the nineteenth century resulted in ever greater speed. The various exclusive techniques could be carried out by a machine. Even though haute couture is associated with hand-made luxury and craftsmanship, designers have begun to increasingly supplement craftsmanship with machine and computer-controlled techniques in their quest for exclusivity and innovation.

Technological progress boosts decorative techniques
On the other side of the spectrum, the exhibition highlights experimental techniques from recent years, such as laser cutting and 3D printing. This journey through time in the world of embellishment and decoration unravels the technical aspect, tells the socio-economic story, and demonstrates the visual and aesthetic value of the creations. Fashion houses such as Patou, Lanvin, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Dior, Balmain, Ann Demeulemeester, Iris van Herpen and Alexander McQueen steal the show at the Hasselt Fashion Museum.

_Sarah Burton voor Alexander McQueen, lente-zomer 2013
© Catwalkpictures
Interaction in the chambers of wonder, and an exclusive look behind the scenes of Paris atelier studios
SMUK is not only a visual feast for the eyes. The exhibition has a unique way of introducing visitors to the various decoration techniques and their evolution. Thanks to a collaboration with MIA.H, it is possible to make a decorative pin or cuff link using modern techniques such as computer-controlled embroidery, laser cutting or 3D printing. The other chamber of wonder reveals the setting of a classic atelier studio as it was used by the embroiderer, feather maker, and flower maker.

The campaign image for SMUK (attached), taken by the famous photographer Tim Walker, shows a creation by Raf Simons for Dior (Raf Simons for Dior, spring/summer 2013 haute couture) for which the front and back were embellished by atelier Lemarié, while the inside was taken care of by atelier Noclercq. Belgian designer Raf Simons was the creative director of the French fashion house, Dior, between 2012 and 2015.

Expo “SMUK. Decorative techniques in fashion: a show-off” Hasselt Fashion Museum, from 12 October 2019 to 8 March 2020 Hasselt
Fashion Museum, Gasthuisstraat 11, 3500 Hasselt
Björk, 2001
© Nick Thornton-Jones & Warren du Preez

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