Fashion is our Cultural Mirror

Retro @ National Museum’s New Building, open till April 30th, 2017

Fashion is constantly changing; what is new today may not be new tomorrow, for fashion trends reflect our cultural and political attitudes over time. This season in Milan, Italy, fashion collections implied messages about the current political climate. For instance, the contemporary fashion queen Donatella Versace’s collections had words splashed across hats, scarves, and shirts - “Unity”, “Love”, “Loyalty”, “Power.” Here, fashion portrays people’s attitudes of the times.

Retro, a current exhibition at the Czech National Museum (Národní Muzeum) similarly takes visitors back in time to see the gorgeous fashion items from the 19th century to the present, as a reflection of the cultural and political attitudes in Czech history. The exhibit shows visitors a nostalgic story about the past and gives credence to fashion’s timelessness. It is also a fun learning opportunity for everyone, but especially for the fashion enthusiast.

The fashion display includes clothing and undergarments through each decade combined with contemporary fashion designs inspired by the past. Monika Drápalová’s short-sleeve light grey “princess” dress with signature vintage round Peter Pan collars, hour-glass silhouette and a leather belt seems to be an elegant dress from a girl’s closet in the 1940s, but instead it is a 2013 design of Free Circle, a Czech casual fashion brand.

The most timeless dresses are from the roaring 20s, La Garconne, also known as the flapper dress emphasized a new freedom of movement in women’s fashion with shining, fringed details, and bralettes. Women were freed from the corset and crinoline of the late 19th century, no longer expected to fit a certain mold. However, the fashion of the 20s did not die after the huge hit of the next dominant trend for women’s dresses--Coco Chanel's little black dress of the 30s. Recently many Czech contemporary fashion brands, such as Lazy Eye, Jana Zielinski, and Free Circle are most inspired by these 1920s and 1930s vintage fashion trends.

A highlight of the exhibition is a small, hidden room at the far end of the fashion section, showcasing retro accessories and their inspirations for contemporary fashion. There is a pair of 1930s women’s black high-ankle boots next to a grey pair of boots, from 2015, though they look identical. These are among the best illustrations of the timelessness of fashion.

The exhibition also has another area for retro toys, and technologies like older televisions, gramophones and typewriters. A large retro playroom also lets visitors play with retro technology. In this area, visitors can dress a human-sized mannequin, listen to old recordings, and learn how clothes were made back then. The curators believe that this exhibition is not only to educate the younger generation, but also to remind the older generations of their youthful time. Retro is open till April 30 to showcase interesting items that have marked history.

Retro exhibition
National Museum’s New Building
Vinohradská 1, 110 00 Praha 1

Open till April 30th, 2017
Thursdays – Tuesdays: 10 AM to 6 PM
First Wednesdays of the month 10 AM to 8 PM

Tickets cost 100 CZK/full, 70 CZK/reduced, 170 CZK/family. 

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