Coming: ‘Fashioned from Nature’ Exhibition at Victoria & Albert Museum London

Melvyn Teillol-Foo

V&A Museum London

Coming Soon

The first UK exhibition to explore the complex relationship between fashion and nature from 1600 to the present day, will be hosted by the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) London, U.K. from 21st April 2018 until 27th January 2019.

Fashionable dress will be presented alongside natural history specimens, innovative new fabrics and dyeing processes, thus inviting visitors to think about the materials of fashion and the sources of their clothes.

V&A Museum Location

Victoria and Albert Museum
Cromwell Road
London, SW7 2RL

Opening Hours
Daily: 10.00 – 17.45
Friday: 10.00 – 22.00

Admission to the V&A is free but tickets for this special exhibition will cost £12 each.

Advanced booking is advisable as entry times are issued in 15-minute timeslots from 10:00 – 16:00 daily.

V&A – the world’s leading museum of art and design

From its early beginnings as a Museum of Manufactures in 1852, to the foundation stone laid by Queen Victoria in 1899, to today’s state-of-the-art galleries, the Museum has constantly evolved in its collecting and public interpretation of art and design. Its collections span over 5,000 years of human creativity in nearly every medium, housed in one of the finest groups of Victorian and modern buildings in Britain.

V&A Museum John Madejski Garden (photo by marcus ginns)

With a permanent collection of over 2.3 million objects, the V&A is the world’s leading museum of art and design. The Museum holds many of the UK’s national collections and houses some of the greatest resources for the study of architecture, furniture, fashion, textiles, photography, sculpture, painting, jewellery, glass, ceramics, book arts, Asian art and design, theatre and performance.

World’s museum firsts: Gaslights and Restaurant

Victorian Gentleman

In the 1860s, Londoners could ride in a horse-drawn cab out from central London to the suburb known as Brompton. There, at the South Kensington Museum (as the V&A was then named), they could enjoy the collections of applied art and science late into the evening thanks to the use of gas lighting in the galleries – a world first.

The founding Director, Henry Cole, hoped the Museum would “furnish a powerful antidote to the gin palace”. But visitors who made the journey would also be treated to another world first – a museum restaurant.

The Centre Refreshment Room (later named The Gamble Room), late 1860s. Museum no. E.655-2009. © Victoria and Albert Museum

When entering the Museum from the garden, the public were greeted by three arches with glass screen doors that led to a trio of refreshment rooms. Henry Cole’s concept of a museum restaurant was seen as a way of encouraging people to come and enjoy culture. Cole had learnt about visitors’ needs (tea and a bun or a hot meal) while managing the Great Exhibition in 1851. Most other museums did not invest in catering until the 20th century. The original refreshment building was a temporary structure described as ugly by a leading newspaper. It was demolished in 1867.

The New Refreshment Rooms

Three new refreshment rooms – the Gamble, Poynter and Morris Rooms – were opened in 1868, although work continued on their decorations for many years.

The Gamble Room

The first room, originally known as the Centre Refreshment Room and now as the Gamble Room, stood immediately opposite what was intended to be the main entrance. Besides enticing visitors with delicious smells and the welcoming sounds of gaiety, the room was wrapped in a glittering expanse of colourful ceramic, glass and enamel. Newspapers found the room “bright and cheerful … It looks like one of the richly and gaily-adorned cafés of Paris”.

The Grill Room (later named The Poynter Room) by John Watkins, 1976 – 81, London. Museum no. E.815-1945. © Victoria and Albert Museum


The Poynter Room


Exhibition Hightlights

Here is a teaser selection of the exhibition highlights to captivate and entice you.

I’m beginning to sound like a travelogue advertisement….but we are proud of our V&A.

Mantua, 1760s, France. Museum no. T.252 to C-1959. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

How did ladies get through doors in those days, I wonder?!?


Waistcoat, 1780 – 1789, France. Museum no. T.49-1948. © Victoria and Albert Museum


Cape of curled cockerel feathers, Auguste Champot, France, ca. 1895 © Victoria and Albert Museum


Muslin day dress decorated with beetle wing cases, 1868-9, Britain. Museum no. T.1698:1 to 5-2017. © Victoria and Albert Museum

I see the Kardasians were not the first to inspire the song: ‘Baby Got Back’….


Skirt with train, about 1890, England. Museum no. T.35-1950. © Victoria and Albert Museum


Pine Marten fur hat, Caroline Reboux, 1895 © Victoria and Albert Museum


Evening coat, Alix (Madame Grès), 1936, France. Museum no. T.234-1976. © Victoria and Albert Museum


Hat of suede and Himalayan monal pheasant (Lophophorus impejanus), Lucienne Rabaté for Reboux, 1946, France. Museum no. T.384-1974. © Victoria and Albert Museum

“Was the pheasant wild?”

“Wild?  — he was positively livid!”


‘Clean Up or Die’ man’s ensemble, Katharine Hamnett, 1989, Britain. Ankle boots by Shellys. Museum no. T.208 to E-1990. © Victoria and Albert Museum


Calvin Klein Green Carpet Challenge dress worn by Emma Watson to the MET Gala 2016. © Matt Baron


Jacket and trousers, John Malkovich, 2017, France. Shoes, Christian Louboutin, 2018, Italy. © Victoria and Albert Museum


Outfit made from leather off-cuts and surplus yarn, Katie Jones, 2017 (photo by rachel mann)


‘Rootbound #2’ dress, Diana Scherer, 2017, Netherlands. © Diana Scherer


Trouser suit, Bruno Pieters for Honest By, 2017, Belgium. Museum no. T.1702:1&2-2017. © Victoria and Albert Museum


Ensemble, Stella McCartney, Winter 2017. © Stella McCartney


AlphaLuxe Comment

Although the exhibition opens on Saturday 21st April 2018, just in time for the Summer social season, there is no need to panic travel to London because it’s on until 27th January 2019.

It does mean that you’ll have to factor in an extra day to your London travel schedule during the year just to catch the exhibition….



Author’s Biography: Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)

Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web-zine.
He is also a moderator on horology discussion fora. He blends his scientific medical objectivity from the pharmaceutical industry with purist passion, in his musings about watches, travel, wine, food and other epicurean delights.
His travelogue ‘Lazing’ and feasting ‘Grazing’ series of articles have now passed into “mythic legend” on the original ‘’ website. Those were the halcyon days when he was “rich and famous” that he remembers with bittersweet fondness.

Dr Teillol-Foo is a quoted enthusiast on the watch industry, appearing in feature articles and interviews by Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Sunday Times (London), Chronos (Japan), Citizen Hedonist (France) and other publications. He has authored articles for magazines like International Watch (iW) – both U.S. & Chinese editions, ICON (Singapore), August Man (Singapore), Comfort (China) and The Watch (Hong Kong).

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