15/7 - 19/11 2023

Fashion Paradox

The exhibition features iconic women’s dresses mostly from the 1960s by designers such as Christian Dior, Coco Chanel, Paco Rabanne, Yves Saint-Laurent and many others. The fashion is complemented and confronted by artworks from Museum Kampa’s own collections.

Fashion is full of contradictions. It both covers and reveals. It stirs up, but it also creates barriers. It reigns over the surface, but it suggests depth. It can be rebellious, but it often leans towards conformity. It is both appealing and disturbing. It changes constantly, nonetheless reaching towards timelessness. It separates us from the crowd, yet it entices us into uniformity. It surprises, but also reassures and designs a clearly defined style. It takes itself too seriously all the while being surprisingly playful. It is superficial to the point of emptiness, yet simultaneously loaded down with meaning. Art, on the other hand, is not meant to be contradictory – it is associated with unambiguous depth and timeless value.

Fashion is an inherently paradoxical phenomenon. It is never merely functional and utilitarian; it transcends the elementary social necessity that commands people to dress. Its superficiality and triviality is deceitful: it always reflects the obsessions and ideals of the time in which it was created. Fashion artefacts are textbook examples of objects of desire – that they were already at the time of their creation – and that is why they have been preserved and why they fascinate us to this day. We can admire them, but we can also analyse them, anchor them in their context, strip them of their original charm or, to the contrary, enhance it. No wonder fashion artefacts have become museum objects. We can admire them just as traces of a vanished culture, or we can also find in them something that transcends historicity; something that speaks to us from beyond the borders of time. Fashion is an issue addressing all of us, even if we may not care to admit it.

The fashion artefacts are on loan from Alexandre Vassiliev Foundation in Kaunas, Lithuania, one of the most important private collections related to fashion in the world with more then half a million models.