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"WOMAN by Vivienne Westwood, Christian Dior Couture, Maison Martin, Margiela, Junya Watanabe, Ann Demeulemeester, Veronique, Leroy, Bernhard Willhelm, Viktor & Rolf and Hussein Chalayan"
2003-01-31 until 2003-05-18
Centraal Museum
Utrecht, , NL

For four months from January 31 onwards, the Centraal Museum will focus on ‘the ideal woman’. What do contemporary fashion designers see as the epitome of femininity and allure and how important is the ideal woman in their work? Viktor & Rolf, John Galliano (Christian Dior Couture), Vivienne Westwood, Veronique Leroy, Ann Demeulemeester, Bernard Willhelm, Maison Martin Margiela, Junya Watanabe and Hussein Chalayan present their vision of woman in the 21st century. In addition the museum will show historical items from its own collection. Running concurrently in display windows en route to the museum Dutch designers, photographers and others will present their images of woman in the future.

In the Centraal Museum’s Stallen, nine fashion designers will present their vision of femininity anno 2003 in the form of an installation, each of which will occupy a space of some 100 square metres. Christian Dior Couture will show eight spectacular couture-pieces from past seasons. Hussein Chalayan will design 13 ‘Objects of Contemplation’: clothing in the form of furniture.

Viktor & Rolf will construct an installation based on their ‘chroma-key’ collection for winter 2002/03. The designers will show the elements on which their image of woman is based. Who are the stars they used to admire? In what ways have their tastes changed down the years? Typical of this era is that each designer expresses a quite different image of femininity and seductiveness. The type of woman presented by Martin Margiela (eyes obscured by a black strip) is very different from the extrovert and womanly woman put forward by Vivienne Westwood. Contemporary fashion no longer presents a single ideal. This is due in part to the designers’ diverse cultural backgrounds. Western taste has long ceded its dominance in Paris, as attested by the popularity of Japanese designers such as Junya Watanabe and Yohji Yamamoto, but also by the designs of Huseein Chalayan, whose background is Turkish Cypriot. At least equally as important is the fact that women in 2003 can be super-feminine – in fur, high heels and with handbag – without being pigeon-holed as victims of a male-dominated culture. Have women become politically and socially different creatures? And does that affect our idea of what makes a woman beautiful and seductive? As a means of sharpening this image, the womanly ideals of the past are featured at various points throughout the exhibition in the form of historical fashion icons from the museum’s own collection.

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