Visiting the Vogue 100: Century of Style exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery has been at the top of my bucket list for a long time, so I was surprised at myself when I proactively booked the ticket and began my expedition to central London. Once I had got over the initial shock of the extortionately priced student ticket I was excited to dress in an outfit I deemed arty enough to blend in with the annoyingly trendy fashion students and designer-adorned public scanning the exhibition.
Audrey Hepburn photographed by Cecil Beaton for “Vogue” – 1964
The exhibition itself was aesthetically beautiful and I expected nothing less than a visual masterpiece from a fashion brand that has shaped and led the way for many years. Against stark white walls, the vibrant photographs were hard to miss as you strolled the narrow corridors, spanning over a century of Vogue’s creations. What surprised me was the pride I felt as I wandered through this collection of 280 prints; British Vogue, since 1916, has formed a creative platform which is still thriving today. It was not just an exhibition to leisurely browse but a showcase of exotic places across the world and historical events pin-pointed by famous photographers and renowned models. Kate Moss’s perfectly carved doll-like face was a frequent component of the exhibition, glowing like an angel under the clinical bright lighting of the gallery.
Cover of the May 1917 issue. (American Vogue)
There were a lot of tourists…a lot. This might not bother everyone but I found myself constantly being elbowed or pushed aside as we all tried to get a glimpse of Cara Delevingne’s groomed brows gracing the cover of the spring edition. I was also disappointed that no photos were permitted at all; this resulted in me taking sneaky snaps on my phone with a non-subtle guilty expression. Alas, such are the sacrifices we have to make at a celebrated exhibition, and it was worth it, even if I did end up being embarrassingly told off for taking a selfie with Prince Harry’s handsome 2014 Vogue cover.
a showcase of exotic places and historical events, pin-pointed by famous photographers and renowned models
A word of advice – don’t be tempted by the gift shop, no matter how much you think you need the £40 silk woven head scarf or the stone heavy coffee table book which you will look at once and never again. You don’t. They will be wonderful souvenirs but the free one-sided brochure should be enough to stick on your notice board and remember that you actually visited.
So the Vogue exhibition is well worth a peruse. Whether you are fashion savvy or just enjoy looking at exquisitely taken photographs, this gallery is one to add to your to do list. Fashion has evolved considerably in shape, colour, and textiles and continues to reflect the cultural events of today. We must embrace our love for designing pieces of art we wear and value. In the words of Anna Wintour, “’Vogue’ is the best of everything that fashion can offer, and I think we point the way’”.