I had been looking forward to the Riviera Style: Resort & Swimwear since 1900 at the Fashion and Textile Museum for quite a while and I finally had the chance to attend before it closed on September 13th.

Based on the buzzing Bermondsey Street and directly opposite the new White Cube gallery, the Fashion Museum building (painted in shades of bright orange and pink) is impossible to miss.

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Riviera Style celebrates the rich array of clothing worn in and by the sea, and focuses on how clothing design, fabric and attitudes to exposing the body have changed since the late nineteenth century.

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With swimsuits and sarongs, brightly patterned beach cover-ups, boat neck Bretons and beach pyjamas, palazzo pants and playsuits, bikinis and burkinis, the exhibition features over 100 years of clothes for leisure. From the bathing beauties of the mid-nineteenth century to the second skin swimwear of the 90s, the exhibition explores fashion, taste and developments in fabric technology and ultimately highlights its deeper historical, religious and sociological aspects.

The exhibition space recreated by FTM’s in-house designer Beth Ojari truly transports you to the British seaside, the swimming pool, the lido and the Mediterranean resort. The palette of pastel and bright hues add to the perfect leisure summer feel and the curated display of Riviera-inspired prints on the walls give it stylistic context. Selected from the archives of British Vogue, P&O Heritage and National Railway Museum, the posters by commercial artists and illustrators like Roger Broders, Tom Purvis and Atelier Mourlot celebrate fashion and travel from the 1930s to 1960s.

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The museum makes up for the lack of a permanent collection with an impressive programme of talks, events and workshops.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to this refreshing and timely summer exhibition and I will be looking into the vintage Riviera-inspired prints for inspiration in months to come.

 

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