Not one – but two designers – have been chosen for The Fashion Museum Bath’s prestigious annual accolade, Dress of the Year.
The two 2018 ensembles, as chosen by Alexander Fury, Fashion Features Director of AnOther magazine and Men’s Critic of the Financial Times, are:
- A womenswear look by Nicolas Ghesquière for Louis Vuitton
- A menswear look by Kim Jones from his debut collection for Dior Men
Each year, the Fashion Museum invites a respected expert from the fashion industry to select an outfit that encapsulates the prevailing mood of fashion, represents the past year and captures the imagination.
Rosemary Harden, Fashion Museum Curator, said, “We are thrilled with Alexander Fury’s selection of work by Nicolas Ghesquière for Louis Vuitton and Kim Jones for Dior as Dress of the Year 2018. A huge thank you to Alexander for putting so much thought into what is a truly inspired selection for the Dress of the Year Collection here at the Fashion Museum.
Not only does the choice of these two stunning ensembles address the trends and a prevailing narrative in fashion just at the moment – with ideas of gender fluidity and women’s clothes for men and men’s clothes for women – but it also references concepts of history and tradition, with two of the most exciting and innovative designers in fashion today working for revered and long-established Paris fashion houses.
And especially exciting for us is how these two contemporary ensembles fit so well within the canon of the Fashion Museum’s wonderful world-class collection of historical fashionable dress. We are so grateful to Alexander and to Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior for their generous and continuing support of the Fashion Museum Bath.”
Councillor Paul Myers, cabinet member for Economic and Community Regeneration at Bath & North East Somerset Council, which runs the Fashion Museum, said, “It’s fantastic news that these two looks by Nicolas Ghesquière for Louis Vuitton and Kim Jones for Dior have been added to the Fashion Museum’s collection. We are very grateful to Alexander Fury and also to the designers, who have generously donated these two ensembles to the museum. They will be displayed as the final items in the A History of Fashion in 100 Objects exhibition, where local residents with a Discovery Card will be able to see them for free.”
The chosen designs will become part of the museum’s world-class collection and will go on display in their headline exhibition A History Of Fashion In 100 Objects from November 28, 2018.
The 2018 looks in detail:
Look 1 from Nicolas Ghesquière’s S/S 2018 collection for Louis Vuitton.
A silk embroidered redingote style coat worn with white silk cropped long sleeve blouse with ruffles, light blue jersey shorts and ‘Archlight’ sneakers.
Look 27 from Kim Jones’ S/S 2019 collection for Dior.
A light pink cashmere twill double-breasted ‘Tailleur Oblique’ jacket and high waist wide trousers, accessorised with tricoloured cotton canvas and navy blue grained calfskin duffle bag, ‘B24’ light pink calfskin and mesh sneakers, and a chunky metal necklace with pink rhodonite detail and ‘CD’ closure.
2018 selector Alex Fury said of his choices: “The overarching idea behind these choices is to reflect the influence and importance of history – vital to fashion throughout its existence, and also very much tied to how I write, and how I consider fashion. Today, history is important: luxury conglomerates continue to resurrect moribund houses, or to install new talent in names with roots deep in the past – Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Valentino. Purchasing their clothes is a way to buy into history, and the powerful recognition of those names is the reason conglomerates overwhelmingly choose pre-existing fashion labels as vehicles for young talent instead of backing new ventures. Working within the framework of a historical house also provides aesthetic and stylistic guidelines, for designers to adhere to and honour, or even to rebel against. They can be bastions to be upheld, or Bastilles to be stormed.
Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior are both historic houses, 164 and 72 years respectively, each helmed by successors rather than their founders. Their work is fundamentally knotted with the past – using signifiers and emblems from history, both their own and wider, to create something new.
Each of these two examples deals with history in different ways. Vuitton is an update of 18th century court clothing – incredibly accurate, but made to feel totally modern via juxtaposition, of sports shorts and trainers with a brocaded frock-coat. The outfit was designed by Nicolas Ghesquière, a radical talent with twin fascinations with the traditions and systems of the past, and forward-thinking technology. The best of his work fuses the two – as in this outfit. It exemplifies why he has been a leading force in fashion for twenty years, one of the defining designers of our era. The Louis Vuitton spring/summer 2018 collection was shown in the bowels of the Louvre, the former palace of French kings. It of course is a witty reflection on “Louis” as both the founder’s name and that of French kings; but it is also aligning Louis Vuitton with a history of French royalty, a grand tradition intrinsically tied with arts and culture in France.
Kim Jones’ look from his debut Dior menswear collection trades not on wider French history, but on Dior’s heritage. Named the Tailleur Oblique, the diagonal line is based on Christian Dior’s winter 1950 haute couture collection, where tailoring wrapped and buttoned the body on an angle. The suit is in pink, a signature Dior colour second only to grey – in a case of a reflection history in itself reflecting history, the pink shade was inspired by the brick of Dior’s childhood home in Granville on the Normandy coast.
It also reflects an incredibly important moment in terms of the shift of authorship of the French house’s menswear line – Jones is one of the most talented and influential men’s designers working in the world today.
Alongside history, there is an oddly up-to-the-minute element of gender fluidity in these choices. The frock coat is based on historical menswear, translated into womenswear by Nicolas Ghesquière. For the Louis Vuitton advertising campaign, it was then photographed on both women and a man (the French-Canadian director Xavier Dolan). So for me, it interestingly reflects the blurring of gender lines, which is so prevalent. The Oblique suit, likewise, is menswear based on womenswear – Dior’s original line. And although modelled by a man, it has since been worn by women, including the model Naomi Campbell. The colours are, obviously, late twentieth century signifiers of male and female, but here are inverted in another play with gender. And, interestingly, both looks are worn with trainers. Oddly underrepresented in Bath but at every level the footwear that best represents our time.”
The Dress of the Year Collection was launched in 1963 by Doris Langley Moore, founder of the Fashion Museum. Dress of the Year 1963, chosen by the Fashion Writers’ Association, was a grey wool dress and cream blouse by Mary Quant. Other feted designers featured include Ossie Clark, Kenzo Takada, Missoni, Calvin Klein, Miuccia Prada, Karl Lagerfeld (for Chloe and for Chanel), Alexander McQueen, Tom Ford for Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche and Raf Simons for Dior.
The full Dress of the Year collection can be viewed at www.fashionmuseum.co.uk/galleries/dress-year
Previous selectors have included some of the leading lights in fashion over the decades – from senior fashion editors to ground-breaking stylists to those that have changed the face of fashion retail: Sarah Bailey (Red Magazine), Alexandra Shulman (Vogue), Isabella Blow, Mrs Burstein (Browns), Stephen Jones and Katie Grand (LOVE) have all previously been invited by the Fashion Museum Bath to choose the Dress of the Year.