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Fashioned from Nature (touring)

Start Date 19 December 2020
End Date 06 June 2021
Venue Sea World Culture and Arts Center/Design Society
Location Shenzhen, China
Curator Edwina Ehrmann and Edith Cheung Sai May
Exhibition display of dressed mannequins

Fashioned from Nature is the first exhibition hosted by Design Society dedicated to textiles and fashion, and expands on the original V&A exhibition narrative with a complementary new section on Chinese fashion and textiles. Exhibits are drawn from the V&A and China National Silk Museum’s extensive collections alongside international loans. The V&A holds the UK’s national collection of textiles and fashion and has one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of dress in the world.

When Fashioned from Nature premiered in London, it received over 170,000 visitors. Similarly, China National Silk Museum is internationally renowned for its research around historic textiles. In recent years, it has become a new landmark for the fashion crowd with its unique galleries for Chinese and Western fashion and textile arts. Design Society invited Edith Cheung Sai May, consultant at China National Silk Museum, to guest-curate the new section Fashioned from Nature in China: Then and Now, spotlighting the extensive history and contemporary innovation of Chinese fashion and textiles.

Fashioned from Nature features precious garments and accessories from across five continents, including a replica of the Yongzheng Emperor’s (1678-1735) dragon robe woven with real gold threads, a pair of gloves from the early 1600s that are intricately embroidered with wheat sheaves, birds and flowers, and a 1780s man’s waistcoat embroidered with a pattern of playful macaque monkeys. Nature’s wide-ranging influence is also seen in materials, highlighted by a pair of boots made by the Hezhe people from fish skin in 2018, a 19th-century dress decorated with over 5,000 beetle wings, and an evening gown with a ‘leopard skin’ draped over the front, crafted entirely from beads. Multiple global fashion brands including Dior, Gucci, Burberry and Stella McCartney are featured in the show. Exquisite garments and accessories by Alexander McQueen, Jean Paul Gaultier, Roberto Cavalli, Dries van Noten, Vivienne Tam, and William Tang also feature, showing how fashionable dress continually draws on the beauty and power of nature for inspiration.

Image © Sea World Culture and Arts Center.