Fashion Week graced London with its presence last week, and its extravagant spirit lives on at one of Chelsea’s most prestigious cultural institutions.
The Victoria and Albert Museum is celebrating the life and work of one of Britain’s most legendary fashion photographers, Tim Walker. With autumn now upon us, there’s no better way to spend a chilly afternoon than falling down the rabbit hole into a fanciful world of lilac cats, fluffy pears, translucent dragons and enormous dolls – all paired with gracefully posed supermodels and some of the most significant haute-couture pieces in fashion history.
The picture you end up taking becomes a souvenir brought back from a daydream
Visitors are invited to fully immerse themselves in Tim Walker’s visionary photography, touring the inner workings of his imagination, along with the romance, mystery and mischief it contains. For those of you unaware of the treasures in Vogue’s archives, this provides a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in Walker’s fantastical fashion shoots with the magazine. Alternatively, you could choose to tour the individually themed rooms. These areas provide a captivating mental exercise which is sure to push the boundaries of your own imagination, enveloping it in a childlike state of wonder.
Not to Be Missed
For those who would more readily associate Walker with glossy fashion publications, his natural eye for portraiture will likely come as a pleasant surprise. Models placed in Dali-esque dreamscapes are a hallmark of his work, however, littered among these surrealist masterpieces you’ll find a long list of celebrity collaborators and muses, some of whom Walker chose to re-photograph because of their “innate ability to inhabit the make-believe”.
Portraiture has historically explored a sitter’s identity and Tim’s work is no exception. In a delicate process that he cleverly refers to as “The Handshake” Tim meets his sitters halfway, exploring their internal worlds and vulnerabilities while remaining respectfully wary of their personal boundaries. Whilst there, be sure to take the opportunity to get better acquainted with the likes of David Attenborough, David Hockney, Nicole Kidman and club kid, James Spencer.
Sometimes pictures and photographs are more like people than people themselves
Tim Walker & the Victoria & Albert
This exhibition certainly deserves praise for its thorough curation, but the true genius lies in its exploration of Tim’s relationship with the Victoria & Albert, a place he considers “one of the most inspiring places in the world”. Visitors less familiar with the creative process will get to see how Walker was directly influenced by some of the most surprising treasures in the museum’s collection.
Each picture is an attempt to capture the emotions I felt on meeting these objects, and the stories they conjured in my mind. As I wandered through the museum, I imagined how it must have felt for the archeologist Howard Carter when he first encountered the sublime contents of the tomb of Tutankhamun
Throughout the exhibition, you’ll see the incredible ways Walker uses the rustic beauty of historical artifacts to illuminate the colorful realms of contemporary fashion, featuring iconic garments from Halpern and Dolce & Gabbana. In his ‘Illumination’ series with American model, Sara Grace Wallerstedt, he employs the vibrant colours of 16th century stained glass windows, whilst his ‘Cloud 9’ series takes reference from watercolors of Krishna and Indra.
For the Boutique London team, no historical link was quite as jaw-dropping as this! One would have never guessed that his enchanting editorial in Vogue Italia’s November 2018 issue stemmed from studying the intricate detail of the snuffboxes in the Victoria & Albert’s collection. Indeed, the power of his creative genius is clearly demonstrated as we learn just how small-scale antiquities led him to “visualize an empress walking her pet dragon at night and picking flowers that only bloom at full moon”.
This unique interpretation of the Chinese high court into contemporary high fashion is sure to leave a lasting impression. The wider fairytale journey that surrounds this singular moment is definitely not to be missed either. Visitors will be able to enjoy the work of a photographer who possesses a rare sensitivity to beauty and colour, as well as an unmatched ability to tell fantastical stories.
Editor, Boutique London