Skip to content

From Chanel to Punk: Fashion in the 20th Century

Start Date 08 May 2004
End Date 28 November 2004
Venue Kunstmuseum Den Haag
Location Netherlands

The summer exhibition in the Fashion Gallery of the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag features top examples of 20th-century fashion design. Items from the museum’s costume collection are used to highlight the main developments over the period. Trendsetting designers like Coco Chanel, André Courrèges, Christian Dior, Cristobal Balenciaga, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Issey Myake, Yohji Yamamoto and Dries van Noten are represented by pioneering creations that set the course of contemporary fashion.

The earliest exhibit dates from 1901 and was worn by a maid of honour at the wedding of Princess (later Queen) Wilhelmina. It is a splendid full-length pink and white vision of loveliness made of silk and Brussels lace. The same display case contains fairytale 1950s ball gowns: a creation by Cristobal Balenciaga (1957) and a white evening dress based on a design by Christian Dior (ca. 1958). A spectacular 2001 creation by Jean-Paul Gaultier demonstrates that, even in the 21st century, designers are still drawing on the fashion silhouettes of the past to produce innovative designs. The use of black net in the overdress is an example of the punk influence often apparent in the work of this enfant terrible of the French fashion world. Other familiar fashions on display are André Courrèges’ 1965 mini dress and two genuine 1980s Dutch punk outfits. A modern dandy designed in 1984 by Alexander van Slobbe illustrates another look of the 1980s. The show also includes other late 20th-century male fashion designs by Yohji Yamamoto, Dries van Noten and Aziz.

Yet more international designers featured in the exhibition include Emanuel Ungaro, Emilio Pucci, Yoshiki Hishinuma, Eva Fialovà and Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel. The Dutch design world is likewise generously represented by Frank Govers, Fong Leng, Max Heymans, Dick Holthaus, Maarten van Dreven, Frans Molenaar, People of the Labyrinth and Hague couturier Frans Hoogendoorn. As pointers to developments in the 21st century, there are also some very recent items by talented young designers like Mada van Gaans, Jan Taminiau, Berhard Wilhelm and Atsuro Tayama. Finally, a separate display case is devoted to the influence of the fine and decorative arts on the fashion scene, illustrated by a copy of one of Yves Saint Laurent’s Mondrian dresses, a Mart Visser suit inspired by Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings and a dress by Frank Govers clearly influenced by Delft pottery.