Last night I journeyed to Milsom Place in Bath to attend the private view of Mouvements de Femmes, the Norman Parkinson exhibition curated by Roland Mouret.
Of all of Bath in Fashion’s events, this exhibition was the one I was most looking forward to. Fashion photographer Parkinson’s images were pioneering back in the 50s and 60s, and a collection of his photographs featured in An Eye for Fashion at Bristol’s M Shed last year. Cliché as it may sound, Parkinson had a unique way of capturing his models on film, which included Jean Shrimpton, Nena von Schlebrügge and Grace Coddington, Creative Director of US Vogue.
For Mouvements de Femmes, the twist was the involvement of designer Roland Mouret. Mouret, perhaps best well known for bringing the world the Galaxy dress, picked the venue (the striking Octagon in Milsom Place) combed through thousands of images – some never displayed publicly before – and created an exhibition to capture ‘how women move’, above and beyond what they were wearing at the time. Mouret made several visits to Bath ahead of the exhibition and even had the venue repainted to fit in with his vision.
The exhibition showcases fashion stories and covers from Vogue, Queen magazine and Harper’s Bazaar, and Mouret chose each image ‘not so much because [they are] fashionable, instead more for how the women moved within them’. Hence the selection of models draped over fighter planes, driving fast cars and playing in a way that hadn’t been seen in fashion magazines before.
Parkinson used Bath as a backdrop for several of his shoots, one of which from ‘A Spring Hat and the City of Bath’, above, featured the grandeur of the city’s elegant architecture and raised pavements.
The Octagon provided the perfect setting for each meticulously chosen photograph and was buzzing with life last night as the city’s finest came to celebrate the opening of the exhibition, which marks the centenary of Parkinson’s birth. Prosecco and a string quartet added to the atmosphere, and the hum of classical music matched the hum of guests, murmuring compliments and leaving the present day for just a moment, to delve into Parkinson’s world.
If you’re visiting Bath in the next few weeks I recommend adding this exhibition to your to-do list. It shows a fascinating cross-section of Parkinson’s work, from the view point of one of fashion’s most prominent designers. If you were there last night or made it to the exhibition over the weekend, let me know what you thought of it!
Mouvements de Femmes runs at The Octagon, Milsom Place, until 12th May. Entry is free and the venue is open Tuesdays –Sundays from 10am – 5.30pm for more information click here.
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