Why do we wear what we wear? Does the way we dress have deeper meaning or is dress superficial? What influences our choice of dress?
The Body Adorned: Dressing London opens at the Horniman Museum
on Saturday 24 March and will look across time and cultures at the relationships between dress, the body and the emergence of London as a world city. It will consider how the movement of people, objects and ideas have influenced London dress in the past and explore body adornment in todays capital.
The first part of the exhibition features masterpieces from the Horniman Museums extensive world class anthropological collections which reflect body adornment practices across the world, and asks what this can tell us about how societies work. Some 300 objects will be on display including an Ancestor figure from Papua New Guinea, a shaman figure from North America, early tattooing instruments, a native American headdress, European folk costumes and a spectacular Maori ancestor figure on loan from UCL collections. The objects give an insight into the messages dress conveys in these societies, and visitors will see the role dress plays in magic, religion, warfare, social status, gender, marriage and death.
The focus of the exhibition then turns on to contemporary London, with film and photography used to consider dress choices in London today, with:
A specially commissioned film by the innovative, internationally renowned filmmakers and designers The Light Surgeons. In this fully immersive experience, with film running across one large screen and four smaller screens, people in various parts of London will talk about their own and others dress choices.
Urban portraits - a superb display of large scale photographs taken by young people working in partnership with the Horniman Museum and Goldsmiths College exploring the many ways in which Londoners dress.
Wardrobe studies what are the intimate choices, and even anxieties, of Londoners who express their fluid identities through dress? Explore a multi-faith wedding wardrobe, a sharp suited business woman and the mysteries of a teenage bedroom.
The Body Adorned: Dressing London will be the Horniman Museums major exhibition for 2012.
The exhibition is one of a series of four Stories of the World: London exhibitions exploring different aspects of life in this World City. These form part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad programme, Stories of the World, which presents exciting new exhibitions across the UK created by young people.