European Fashion Heritage Association

Journal Exhibitions

Man Ray and Fashion at MoMu Antwerp

fashion and artfashion exhibitionfashion photography

The exhibition explores the aesthetic and influence of one of art’s most inspiring figures in fashion

Last April, MoMu opened its latest exhibition ‘Man Ray and Fashion’, dedicated to the visionary and witty imagery created by the photographer in the interwar years, and its resurgence in fashion.

The exhibition explores the works the surrealist photographer made for fashion, from portraits of famous couturiers and models, to editorials for fashion magazines, and stretches to the influences that his work had – and still has – on fashion designers: Elsa Schiaparelli, Chanel, Madeleine Vionnet, Yves Saint Laurent, Martin Margiela and Dries Van Noten amongst others. 

The exhibition is co-organised with Réunion des Musées Nationaux – Grand Palais, in partnership with the City of Marseille Museums. A first iteration was shown at the Musée Cantini and Château Borély in Marseille and at Musée du Luxembourg in Paris in 2020, while here curator Romy Cockx added a reflection on the many ways in which Man Ray inspired Belgian fashion designers. 


Indeed, the exhibition opens with a sculpture made by Martin Margiela in 1991: a hanger in the shape of a pair of breasts. This is the perfect object to pen the exploration of the interest/obsession of Man Ray for bodies, and their relationship with draping, shapes, lights and garments. 

The son of a seamstress and a tailor, Man Ray surely grew up with the ‘tools of the trade’ around him and his imagery is filled with references to the fashion world, and probably his understanding of fashion and its ‘surrealist potential’ led him to work with major magazines in the 1930s, Vogue before and Harper’s Bazaar later on.

Man Ray’s models, silhouettes, mannequins are in dialogue with the selection of garments that goes from couture pieces from the 1930s – with some gems from MoMu archive, such as pieces by Belgian houses Norine and Timmermans – to recent creations by LOEWE and Olivier Theyskens.

The exhibition is open until 13 August, and we are collaborating with MoMu to feature more highlights on the themes of the exhibition in our journal. So, more on this soon…