One of my strongest skills is driving myself non-stop until the point of no more has been truly crossed. Friday just passed was the finishing line, thank the rota for Saturday and Sunday off. New Year’s Eve off had been great but a super late bed time followed by work only drained the little post-Christmas recharge I had absorbed. The past two days have been pure self-indulgence: sleep, sports training, yoga and culture.
Possibly my most treasured Christmas gift is a year’s membership to the Victoria and Albert Museum. My mum got back from a holiday on Saturday and we wanted to make the most of time off together and in the nick of time Mum and I made it to the ‘Horst: Photographer of Style’ exhibition. Horst P. Horst (1906–1999), so eponymous he later on went by his surname, is held by some to be the first true fashion photographer, working for the fashion’s most established literary names. To me, his images are some of the most arresting I have ever had the privilege of seeing.
Horst contorted light in his figures, veiling them with mystery and power. His models, taken mostly from high society, were costumed in some of the most illustrious fashion houses of then and now-Cartier, Chanel, Schiaparelli to mention just a couple. Their poses, taken from classical art, and the precise contours of the clothes imbue femininity and untold power. In the image below, with a masterful twist of light, the model has no face and no identity, just the outline of her forthright character. Some prominent females today defend their scanty dress as female empowerment in embracing and celebrating their bodily form. Note, however, in almost every Horst photo, models are generously draped in material, their gestures and poses being the foundation of their elegance and strength.
Fantasy and myth are the enrapturing themes of Horst’s work which had my thoughts blissfully occupied from all else in my life right now. In the hope to join him and the models in their world again, I had to buy the book in the gift shop.
Entering an alternative private world, Mum and I, like Alice falling down the V&A’s own rabbit hole, pushed through the discreet door in the Glass Gallery into the members’ room for cultural debrief and lunch stop. As its mission statement the V&A hopes “To enrich people’s lives and inspire individuals and everyone in the creative industries, through the promotion of knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of the designed world.” As far as I am concerned, mission accomplished.
Visiting museums is the broadest genre of catwalk you can attend. Some, clearly dress for the occasion in the artiest ensemble they can create. I just wanted to channel Horst worthy strong elegance. This was the first outing for a dress I discovered at the Christmas charity clothes drive we had at work which I accessorised with a necklace made of strung together 1914 King George V Indian One Rupee coins, faux leather cowboy boots and a vintage Lonchamp handbag.