Whilst lockdowns this year may have caused some to don their ‘Working From Home Dress’ (or dresses), for many it has meant comfy leggings and cosy jumpers day in day out. So if you feel in need of a bit of fashion inspiration, or just want to admire some beautiful fashion creations from over the years, take a look at some of these fabulous fashion museums in Europe.
1. Victoria & Albert, London, UK
Initially a Museum of Manufactures in 1852, Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone to the museum when it became the V&A in 1899. The museum houses collections spanning over 5,000 years of human creativity in virtually every medium, in one of the finest groups of Victorian and modern buildings in Britain. It is the world’s leading museum of art and design, with a permanent collection of over 2.3 million objects, and holds many of the UK’s national collections. It also 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.
2. Musée des Tissus et des Arts décoratifs, Lyon, France
The Textile and Decorative Arts Museum in Lyon is located in two 18th century hôtels particuliers and consists of two collections: textiles and decorative arts. The former showcases 2000 years of textile history and is the first of its type in the world, the latter is one of few museums like it in France. Founded in 1864, the museum houses one of the largest international collections of textiles, with 2,500,000 units, covering a wide range of techniques and geographical areas of the world. The history of Lyon’s silk industry is aslo well represented in the collection, which details the history of the Lyon silk trade going back to the Renaissance period, and displays rare Persian rugs, Coptic tapestries and silk from Spain and Italy. It also offers one of the richest collections of decorative objects and exhibits fine collections of 15th and 16th century Italian Majolica, Middle Ages and Renaissance tapestries and a collection of clocks, as well as contemporary creations such as silverwares from the 60’s to the present day.
3. Fashion & Lace Museum, Brussels, Belgium
The City of Brussels Fashion & Lace Museum houses more than 10,000 items of clothing, lace and accessories ranging from the 16th century to the present day, which it presents in rotation through annual exhibitions. Additionally, the Fashion & Lace Museum is the only Belgian museum that exhibits Brussels lace. Until the 19th century, this fabric made Brussels famous across the globe, and in 1977, the city founded the Museum for Costume and Lace to showcase lace in its proper context. Since then, the collections have continued to grow and they offer a panorama of western European civil fashion. In October 2017, its 40th anniversary, the Museum for Costume and lace was renamed the Fashion & Lace Museum, a new name chosen to strengthen the dialogue between fashion and history.
4. Gucci Museo, Florence, Italy
Relatively new, the Gucci Museum in Florence was inaugurated in 2011, on the 90th anniversary of the famous fashion house. The museum showcases the story of the Italian fashion and leather goods manufacturer, from its early start in the city of Florence to the global biggest-selling Italian brand that it is today. Located in the historic Palazzo della Mercanzia (Palace of the Merchandise), the Gucci museum houses a permanent exhibition of the brand’s iconic pieces, such as bags, clothes, and accessories, as well as many others. The museum uses its three-stories to arrange its collection thematically, revealing all sorts of wonderful displays of Gucci craftsmanship. It narrates the design House’s vision while celebrating the archives, including old advertising campaigns, artisans’ images, and retro objects. Here you can truly discover everything Gucci.
5. Cristóbal Balenciaga Museoa, Getaria, Spain
Another influential designer, the Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum is dedicated to the professional career and personal profile of Cristóbal Balenciaga, from Getaria, Spain. Balenciaga dominated 20th century haute couture, and the Museum tasks itself with conserving and increasing these collections of his works, while making them more accessible and open. The collections housed in the Museum are mostly put together thanks to the collaboration of people related to the couturier and their families, and are an important demonstration of both the material and immaterial legacy left by Cristóbal Balenciaga. The museum aims to publicise the life and work of the renowned designer, its relevance in the history of fashion and design, and the contemporaneity of his legacy, through its beautiful collections of his works.