Five museum fashion shows not to miss, including items from Britain’s royals and Frida Kahlo’s closet

Princess Alexandra‘s mauve silk chiffon embroidered dress, which dates to 1911, is on display in “Royal Women” at the Fashion Museum Bath.
(Peter Stone / Fashion Museum Bath)

Spring fashion weeks in New York, London, Milan and Paris are over, but museum shows featuring Cardin, Dior and others are not. Here are five exhibitions that teach us about style, couture and why it’s easy to obsess on fashion.

New York City

Each spring, the Metropolitan Museum salutes fashion in a grand way. The 2018 exhibition promises styles and designs inspired by what the museum calls the “Catholic imagination.” Religious patterns echo in early 21st century couture pieces, such as John Galliano’s gold-and-white fitted gown for Dior that looks like a papal vestment, complete with a mitre-shaped hat.

Dolce & Gabbana’s full-length dress shimmers with what looks like pieces of a religious mosaic. In addition to contemporary styles, the exhibition will also feature items from the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, including papal vestments, rings and tiaras from the 18th century to the modern day. The show will be on display at the Met Fifth Avenue and its sister location, the Cloisters.

Bath, England

With the May 19 royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on everyone’s mind, an exhibition at the Fashion Museum Bath might be the perfect mood-setter. “Royal Women” shows the fashions that have defined “wives and daughters, sisters and mothers” of queens and kings.

From Queen Elizabeth II’s collection come a gray silk satin ball gown worn by her mother in 1954 and glamorous designer gowns worn by her sister, Princess Margaret. Historic pieces include a wedding dress worn by Alexandra, Princess of Wales.

Info: “Royal Women,” through April 28


Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo on a bench, carbon print, 1938, photo by Nickolas Muray. The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection

Artist Frida Kahlo as a fashionista? But of course. In 2004, cupboards and rooms in her beloved Blue House in Mexico City were opened after half a century.

Now some of those possessions — clothing, accessories, jewelry, photographs and even one of her prosthetic legs — will travel to London’s V&A. The show includes her paintings, such as “My Dress Hangs There” (1933) and “The Love Embrace,” (1943), as well as items that show the connection between her clothes and personal effects and her distinctive style.

Info: “Frida Kahlo: Making’s Herself Up,” June 16-Nov. 4.


Denver has put together one of the biggest Christian Dior retrospectives around. The city’s Art Museum will host a show that looks at 70 years at the Paris fashion house. It starts with the style revolution after World War II and continues to the modern day.

The designer changed everything by creating feminine, fitted waists and “accentuated busts” in the postwar era. The show features 150 dresses plus accessories, photographs, fashion drawings and runway videos that tell a chronological tale.

Info: “Dior: From Paris to the World,” Nov. 19-March 3


Pierre Cardin
Pierre Cardin's cocktail dresses with conical breasts, 1966. Archives Pierre Cardin / Savannah College of Art and Design

The work of another French designer known as the vanguard of the avant-garde is on display at SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film. Pierre Cardin gets a retrospective that underscores his futuristic styles of the 1960s.

Case in point: his cocktail dresses with conical breasts circa 1966. Cardin, who will be 95 in July, broke with the couture model in 1959 and sent ready-to-wear clothes down his fashion runways. His actions redefined the business side of the industry.

The retrospective exhibition chronicles seven decades of his work.

Info: “Pierre Cardin: Pursuit of the Future,” through Sept. 30

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