What nicer way to spend a day than ambling round a museum with your daughter! This is how I spent today in London with my (almost) 19 year old daughter, Kat. First on the agenda was a visit to the Design Museum on Shad Thames to see the Christian Louboutin retrospective. If you like shoes then this is a Must See. There must have been one of very pair of shoes the Maestro has ever designed on show. Shoes with high heels, shoes with no heels, flat soles and even no soles at all they are all in this show, together with sketches and patterns for shoes. There is something for all here. For me, the Fetish Room was the most interesting; not because of any fetishistic leanings you understand, but simply because the shoes in this room are by far the most imaginative and artistic, not to mention improbable, and coupled with the stunning photography of Luke Hayes this room was breathtaking.
A short walk along the river brought us back to the South Bank where an ice cream was enjoyed in the sunshine (make the most of it!), and we walked around the newly installed “Stonehenge” a fascinating sculpture made for Skoda cars by artist Tommy Gun. Nicknamed Citihenge, it has been specially positioned to sit on little known ley lines and is made from 18 scrap cars painted a uniform grey. Standing at over five metres tall, each henge is five metres wide and weighs 36 tonnes. The sculpture has been unveiled in time for the Summer Solstice, and also to promote Skoda’s new compact city car the Citigo.
After a slightly warm tube ride we ended up at the V&A where we visited the Ballgowns exhibition. In the newly refurbished Fashion gallery this show features over 60 of the most fantastic Red Carpet frocks seen at events such as royal balls, private parties, state occassions and opening nights since 1950. The list of designers on display is a who’s who of the fashion world and includes names such as Westwood, McQueen, Erdem and Bruce Oldfield. Some of the more stand out frocks include the beaded white ensemble worn by the late Princess Diana, designed by Catherine Walker and known as the Elvis Dress; an amazing feather creation by Alexander McQueen and the incredible knitted silver and gold foil dress by Craig Lawrence. Projected on to domed ceiling corners are the most stunning black and photographs by Tim Hughes which fade in and out continously adding a slightly eerie feel to this fabulous show.
Before leaving we made a quick stop to see the beautiful newly acquired dragon dress by Laurence Xu. This eye catching ball gown uses motifs from Chinese cultural heritage and the traditional Dragon robe worn by the Emperor. Although cut to Western standards, the embroidery is handmade demonstrating Chinese traditions. Xu is one of China’s top designers making couture for the rich and famous there, while this dress also illustrates the new interest in Chinese cultural heritage.