Fashion-themed exhibitions you won’t want to miss

These shows are all well worth adding to your diary

Fashion fans – we’ve rounded up five of the best style-conscious art shows on right now. Whether you’re in Auckland, Wellington or jetting to Melbourne for a much-needed summer shopping break, our pick of exhibitions are a must-see for any fashion lover. With galleries featuring some of art and fashion’s biggest names – we’ve got culture, and couture, covered.

Lee Mingwei and His Relations: The Art of Participation – Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, Auckland

Photo: Auckland Art Gallery

Photo: Courtesy Auckland Art Gallery

This interactive exhibition by international artist Lee Mingwei focuses on the art of participation by bringing together strangers for an experience of everyday interaction.

For the mending project – which explores the idea of clothing as a kind of second skin – visitors are invited to bring along garments or something that needs to be mended. Repairs are made using colourful thread while conversing with the artist or his helpers.  Mingwei’s artistic statement explains his intent isn’t to try to cover up the repair but, instead to commemorate and celebrate it: “something good was done here, a gift was given.” The item becomes part of the exhibition, and is returned to its owner after it finished.

Lee Mingwei and His Relations: The Art of Participation runs until March 19, 2017.

Catwalk to Cover. A front row seat – Expressions Whirinaki Arts and Entertainment Centre, Wellington

Photo: Kirsten Sinclair

Photo: Kirsten Sinclair

This beautifully curated exhibition of photographs offers a candid insight into the creative world of the fashion show. Exciting and intense, the exhibition – shot by top catwalk photographers – reveals all the elements: front row, catwalk, the models, the editors and street style stars. The images feature international designers showing at London, Paris, Milan and New York fashion shows, alongside clothing by New Zealand designers. This show not only offers a behind-the-scenes look, it also creatively captures fashions’ glamorous heart.

Catwalk to Cover. A front row seat runs until February 12, 2017.

Cindy Sherman – City Gallery Wellington

Photo: Courtesy City Gallery Wellington

Photo: Courtesy City Gallery Wellington

New-York based Cindy Sherman is one the most influential artists living today. The photographer – best known for her subversive and somewhat theatrical self-portraits – straddles the worlds of both art and fashion, with her unique perspective on women in contemporary society.

All the characters featured in Sherman’s work are transformations the artist makes herself. Armed with wigs, costumes, and makeup Sherman creates compelling, and at times confronting, images which are largely recognised as feminist critiques. She’s an artistic leader and cultural figurehead, and her work is as relevant today as it has been at any point.

This exhibition of more than 50 photographs includes images from fashion house collaborations with Balenciaga 2007-08, and Chanel 2010-2013 as well as her most recent series referencing old Hollywood glamour and a large scale mural.

Cindy Sherman runs until March 19, 2017.

At the beach: 100 years of Summer Fashion in New Zealand – Dowse Museum, Wellington

Photo: Courtesy Dowse Art Museum

Photo: Courtesy Dowse Art Museum

Impossible to imagine now, but there was a time when woollen bathers were de rigueur. These items from the Edwardian era, along with snappy swimsuits from the 50s as well as skimpy string bikinis of the 70s are all on display at an exhibition which takes a look at our love of the coast, as well as our changing cultural landscape. Sundresses, playsuits, parasols and all manner of coverups are on display, featuring only New Zealand made or designed garments. As much a plotted history of our fashion industry, At the Beach is also a carefully curated collection that celebrates summer.

At the beach: 100 years of Summer Fashion in New Zealandruns until 19 February, 2017

Viktor&Rolf: Fashion Artists – National Gallery Victoria, Melbourne

Photo: Courtesy National Gallery Victoria

Photo: Courtesy National Gallery Victoria

Dutch design duo Viktor&Rolf – Victor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren – are fashion artists in the truest sense of the word. The pair formed an artistic partnership in 1992, and since have been creating work that seamlessly – although at times jarringly – melds both art and fashion.

This exhibition features a selection of the designers’ most show-stopping and innovative works from the past 23 years. Breath-taking haute couture pieces from the designers’ archive are on display alongside miniature dolls dressed in replicas of the some of the designers’ most iconic looks.

Speaking to Fashion Quarterly’s Bronwyn William’s recently the pair mused on the question as to whether their work was fashion or art.

While there’s no denying their work obvious falls into both categories, Snoeren summed it up best with his response, simply stating: “That’s why we call ourselves fashion artists.”

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