European Fashion Heritage Association

Journal EFHA World

SMUK. Fashion Decoration: a Show-Off at ModeMuseum Hasselt

decorationEFHAembroideryfashion exhibition

A dashing exhibition cleverly turned into digital experience – and a guest curation for EFHA instagram account

The story of SMUK starts in the eighteenth century: the heyday of the decorated clothing item, and a time in which even gentlemen begin to dress themselves lavishly with embroidered jackets and cardigans. The rococo period is also the time when crafts like le brodeurle plumassier and le rubanier were described by Diderot and d’Alembert in their Encyclopaedia. These professions are still closely linked to exclusivity and luxury within the fashion world and haute couture.

The industrial revolution in the nineteenth century resulted in ever greater speed. The various exclusive techniques could be carried out by a machine. Even though haute couture is associated with hand-made luxury and craftsmanship, designers have begun to increasingly supplement craftsmanship with machine and computer-controlled techniques in their quest for exclusivity and innovation.

On the other side of the spectrum, the exhibition highlights experimental techniques from recent years, such as laser cutting and 3D printing. This journey through time in the world of embellishment and decoration unravels the
technical aspect, tells the socio-economic story, and demonstrates the visual and aesthetic value of the creations. Fashion houses such as Patou, Lanvin, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Dior, Balmain, Ann Demeulemeester, Iris van Herpen
and Alexander McQueen steal the show at the Hasselt Fashion Museum.

SMUK is not only a visual feast for the eyes. The exhibition has a unique way of introducing visitors to the various decoration techniques and their evolution. Thanks to a collaboration with MIA.H, it is possible to make a decorative pin or cuff link using modern techniques such as computer-controlled embroidery, laser cutting or 3D printing. The other chamber of wonder reveals the setting of a classic atelier studio as it was used by the embroiderer, feather maker, and flower maker.

The exhibition is now closed, but the team at ModeMuseum has cleverly turned it into a digital experience that can be accessed here.

For a deep dive into the exhibition, the team has also take over our instagram account for a guest curation, delving into the stories of some of the most interesting items on show.