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Wild & Cultivated: Fashioning the Rose

The rose and fashion are inextricably entwined. Roses, like fashion, are a luxury and they are ephemeral. They are both ‘shown’ seasonally, their appeal is multi-sensorial, and they each incite passion and obsession.

The Garden Museum’s spring/summer 2022 exhibition explores the use of roses in fashion from the Victorian era to today, with designs from Alexander McQueen, Philip Treacy, Vivienne Westwood and Comme des Garçons amongst other historic and modern collections, as well as photography by Tim Walker and Nick Knight.

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Supported by David Austin Roses

Primrose Archer Dressed In Flowers From My Garden, Hackney, 2020 © Tim Walker Studio

‘Won’t you come into the garden? I would like my roses to see you.’ - (Attributed to Richard Brinsley Sheridan [1751-1816] playwright and poet)

Throughout history artists, designers and writers have explored this fragrant flower and its deterrent thorns (technically they are prickles) – a conjunction of opposites – to draw out illusions to love, beauty, sexuality, sin, rites of passage, degradation, and death.

A creative collaboration between guest curator Amy de la Haye and set designer Simon Costin, this exhibition will also draw inspiration from the Garden Museum collection and gardens to explore the tensions between wild and cultivated, natural and artificial roses within fashion apparel, image making and contemporary craft practices.

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Fashions designed by Alexander McQueen (fashion’s rosarian) and Comme des Garçons will be shown alongside ‘rosy’ undergarments dating from the 18th century and the latest gender-neutral designs by Ashish. Accessories will include including millinery by Stephen Jones and Philip Treacy; a rose bucket bag by Lulu Guinness and a selection of gorgeously decorated fans. Simon Costin’s dramatic ‘Rose and the Nightingale’ neckpiece – which ruptures the wearer’s skin when worn – and a jet mourning brooch will communicate the rose as a metaphor for the savage pain of love unfulfilled and forever lost.

Studio photographic portrait of a seated woman wearing evening dress and a profusion of roses in her lap, American, 1920s

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue and a programme of public events including talks, workshops and a Friday Late.

Supported by David Austin Roses

David Austin Roses is delighted to support the Garden Museum’s spring/summer 2022 exhibition Wild & Cultivated: Fashioning the Rose.

2022 marks the 60th anniversary of the world-leading rose breeder’s much-loved and industry-respected Handbook of Roses, making its partnership with The Garden Museum a wonderful addition to a celebratory year, and unique opportunity to share its passion and love for roses to an ever wider- audience of gardeners and non-gardeners alike.

David Austin Roses Limited is a world-leading breeder of fine English Roses. A family business based in the Shropshire countryside, the company has over 200 varieties of roses to its name.  In 1961, David Austin Snr (1926-2018) introduced his first English Rose, ‘Constance Spry’. Now, 60 years on, his collection of English Roses are celebrated throughout the world, winning a plethora of awards for their exceptional beauty, delicious fragrances and outstanding garden performance.

David Austin Roses
Banner image: Philip Treacy hat, Alexander McQueen Spring Summer 07 Runway Collection © IMAXtree