Fashion in Motion: Jenny Packham
Art and fashion don’t always fit comfortably within the same sentence. In some ways they connect harmoniously but in others, they fiercely contradict one another. Is fashion art? That depends on your take on fashion, or at least the impression it leaves on you. Even Karl Lagerfeld himself seems reluctant to accept this connection, and some other designers see the alliance between the two worlds as merely experimental. I, however, can safely say that I have witnessed fashion translated into an art form by the artist Jenny Packham.
After being kept on hold by London’s V&A Museum for well over an hour I at last managed to secure my seat at the fourth and final ‘Fashion in Motion: Jenny Packham’ show. Packham, renowned for her bridal and evening wear celebrated 25 years of working in the industry by showcasing a selection of her most memorable pieces to the public, and she did not disappoint. Of course, what’s good enough for the Duchess of Cambridge is without a doubt good enough for me.
I (rather childishly) arrived an hour early to get to the front of the queue – not that it mattered considering my ticket had already forced me into the third row. Perched at the edge of my seat in the Raphael Gallery – whose historic structure added a greater sense of grandeur to the event – I waited in eager anticipation.
Packham’s dresses were some of the most beautiful I had ever seen (whilst being altogether wearable) and all pieces of art in their own right – each and every one worthy of the red carpet. The floor length gowns seemed as if they were conjured up from a fairy tale; the bright lights sparkling off the crystal beads that enveloped the dresses created an ethereal elegance, evoking a sense of awe that can only be stirred by a powerful piece of art. The music at times made me feel as if I were in the snowy mountains of Middle Earth. Soft pastel colours were presented throughout the collection, echoing the angelic tones of the music. However, as the bolder shades of red began to appear it added a Valentino-esque seductiveness. The final dress, white and dazzling with crystals, for me transcended the previous gowns in beauty and elegance. Created especially for the show, it seemed as if the entire show was leading up to this; a dress fit for a fairy queen.
The entire display can be summed up into one word: enchanting. That is exactly what it was, and a small blunder from one of the models was hardly enough to release me from this enchantment. After watching and re-watching the show on YouTube for the umpteenth time, I am still mesmerised by how strangely dreamlike yet unequivocally captivating the whole thing felt. Experiencing this within the art world, in the atmosphere of a museum gallery, one could say that the models represent the frames and Packham’s dresses the paintings within them; even if you’re not a fashion enthusiast, but prefer the more traditional elements of art, the work and detail that went into this show are definitely something that you will appreciate.
By Amrita Pal