From February 20 through May 22 2016, six galleries of the Philips Wing will be dedicated to fashion of the Dutch from 1625 to 1960. Starting with garments worn by members of the Frisian branch of the house of Nassau in the Golden Age, the exhibits will feature vibrantly coloured French silk gowns and luxurious velvet gentlemen’s suits of the eighteenth century, classically-inspired Empire dresses and bustles of the Fin de Siècle culminating in twentieth-century French haute couture by Dior and Yves Saint Laurent.
Rijksmuseum Curator of Costumes Bianca du Mortier explains, ‘The garments presented in this exhibition reflect the stories of the people who wore them. In fashion, the choices of the wearer count – they make him or her a trendsetter or a follower. Even today the clothes of the very rich and powerful always convey a conscious or unconscious message. In that respect, nothing has changed over the last 330 years. These choices are restricted by such factors as budget, opportunity, age, social status, climate, personal likes and dislikes and so forth. And when presented in a museum, there is a final selection: the selection of the Rijksmuseum.’
The exhibition is being designed by world-renowned Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf.
According to Erwin Olaf, ‘The challenge and honour of designing this exhibition, Catwalk, for the most extraordinary museum in the Netherlands came at exactly the right moment for me. For several years now I’ve been exploring alternative ways to present my photographic work and to integrate it in installations, sound, video and films as means to immerse viewers in a world that fires and challenges their personal imaginations and, ultimately, sparks a stimulating dialogue between the viewer and the work on view.’
A few highlights of Catwalk:
A unique pair of underpants belonging to Hendrik Casimir I, Count of Nassau Dietz (1612-1640)
The widest dress in the Netherlands: Helena Slicher’s (1737-1776) wedding gown or mantua, which she supposedly wore at her marriage to Aelbrecht baron van Slingelandt (1732-1801) on 4 September 1759
An exceptionally precious and fragile dress of blonde silk bobbin lace (1815-1820)
A silk taffeta cocktail dress by Cristóbal Balenciaga (1951-1952) .
Image © Rijksmuseum, Erwin Olaf.