Unpicking Couture

July 21, 2023  -  January 12, 2025

Free Admission

Unpicking Couture premieres spectacular high-end fashion which has recently entered Manchester Art Gallery’s collection.

Created by influential designers and fashion houses, each outfit represents a groundbreaking moment in fashion and includes works by Christian Dior, Elsa Schiaparelli, Azzedine Alaïa, Cristobal Balenciaga, Pierre Cardin, Vivienne Westwood, Yohji Yamamoto, Bruce Oldfield and Alexander McQueen.

This exhibition celebrates pioneering creativity and design.
The two main themes of the show are: investigating the links between fashion and emotions, in the form of dopamine dressing which encourages dressing for joy, and focusing on repair and restoration, inviting us to consider the lifecycle of a garment and the way it is valued and cared for.

The exhibition will reveal the recent restoration of a 1930s silk velvet jacket by Italian couturier Elsa Schiaparelli, Unpicking Couture promotes sustainable approaches to repairing and preserving much loved and well-worn clothes.

The garments will be on display for the first time. They were acquired through a National Heritage Lottery Fund Collecting Cultures grant from 2015-20.

Unpicking Couture will expose the work that underpins the care of dress collections through a mediative film that captures the process of dress mounting and how the craft and skill involved, mirrors the work of dressmakers and couturiers.

Innovative display techniques have been developed in conjunction with Dr. Jeff Horsley from the Centre for Fashion Curation, London College of Fashion and Dr Angela Piccini from the School of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Plymouth, including dynamic visual and spatial strategies and a focus on the making of the exhibition. These lively modes of presentation provide encounters for fashion as stimulation and immersion, enabling slow looking and inspiring conversation. Part display and part studio space, Unpicking Couture activates ideas around the value and care of collections, sustainability, expression of self, making and creativity.

Unpicking Couture has been developed by Manchester Art Gallery in collaboration with London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London with support from an Arts and Heritage Research Council grant.

Experience Unpicking Couture in a whole new way and connect with Manchester Art Gallery anywhere, anytime.
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You can download a large print version of the artwork labels here.