Fashion in Colour will remind us how the fashions of yesterday and today can bring us moments of hope and, above all, how they bring us together, in every colour of the rainbow – a multicoloured natural phenomenon that is a symbol of hope, courage, pride and gratitude. All its fabulous colours will feature in Fashion in Colour – Bold Fashion. This exhibition, largely comprising items from the museum’s own collection, and created since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, will use fashion to explore the symbolism of colour. At a time when many of us need some comfort, connection and hope, a fashion exhibition can offer all these things. The fashion world is used to looking to the future, after all.
Kunstmuseum Den Haag has changed its exhibition schedule for this autumn. The Dior exhibition has been postponed to autumn 2021, but fashion fans will be able to console themselves with Fashion in Colour. Immerse yourself in colour and enjoy the creations of leading Dutch and international designers including Comme des Garçons, Chanel, Alaïa, Dries van Noten, Louis Vuitton, Walter van Beirendonck, Vivienne Westwood, Gianni Versace, Thierry Mugler, Jacques Heim, Fong Leng, Jan Taminiau, Frank Govers, Dick Holthaus, Issey Miyake, Emilio Ungaro, Liberty’s, Eduard Molyneux and The People of the Labyrinth, and also colourful costumes dating from the eighteenth century to the present day. The exhibition will be drawn largely from the museum’s own large, diverse collection, and will include some items that have never been on public display before. Additional exhibits will come from several colourful recent collections by designers such as Claes Iversen, Bas Kosters, Iris van Herpen, David Laport, Christopher John Rogers, Hanifa and Valentino. And of course there will also be some colourful designer face masks, highlighting the pandemic’s immediate impact on fashion.
Meaning of colour
Today’s fashion is bursting with colour. Is it a coincidence? ‘In difficult times, fashion is always outrageous’, Elsa Schiaparelli once said. She herself was mad about ‘shocking pink’, a colour currently featured in the work of Christopher John Rogers, who works in fabulous unicolours for men and women. At a time of crisis, colour does wonders for boosting the spirits, as times of crisis and sorrow can feel very black. There are many stories to be told about the symbolism of colour. What a colour symbolises for us today may have been very different in the past. Colour in fashion is often like a code, and sometimes the code is now secret, its past meaning long forgotten.
Black was often the colour of mourning in the nineteenth century. But Coco Chanel and others transformed its image, making it desirable, in the form of the little black dress – perfect for partying, for dancing, as the world emerged from the First World War. Before that, grey was also a colour of mourning, as was purple. But purple was also a costly, regal colour. Later, after it had been appropriated by the women’s movement, it came to be associated with hope and new beginnings. Red signifies danger, but it also symbolises love. Orange is the Dutch national colour, but in the past wearing it could cost you your life. Sunny yellow is the colour of optimism, but did you know that it used to be worn by street prostitutes, as it made them easy to spot in dark alleys? White symbolises innocence and purity and, thanks to the cult of the Virgin Mary, blue has acquired a very special significance through the centuries. Green brings hope. It also stands for a new way of interacting and represents the current changes in the fashion industry, which is starting to embrace green fashion. And have things now finally changed for good in the fashion world, with the current focus on diversity and the worldwide anti-racism protests?
Hopeful and diverse
Fashion in Colour will tell these and many other stories about hope and colour, using the fashions of yesterday and today. Several designers, including Valentino, Bas Kosters and Hanifa will show garments that bring them hope. They will be woven through the collection, providing a diverse and hopeful look to the future. The exhibition spaces themselves will play an important role. Art director Maarten Spruyt will transform each gallery into an experience in itself, immersing visitors in colour, enabling them to feel for themselves how it evokes emotion, inspires and brings hope.
The exhibition will be sponsored by Nationale-Nederlanden.