Barcelona Cultura

"Fashion is escapism in that it creates fantasy and illusion"

Sílvia ventosa, curator of the permanent exhibition “Dressing the body. Silhouettes and fashion, 1550-2015” and head of the Textile and Fashion Department at the Museu del Disseny (Barcelona Design Museum)

Having participated and worked on the various stages that this clothing and textiles collection at the Design Museum has undergone, at what point is the collection now?

The collection is at a good point. One by one, the pieces that have come into the Museum are being reviewed, cleaned and documented in order to store them in the best conditions and also to increase knowledge about them for future projects.

Of the entire collection, what piece or which pieces do you think have marked a turning point in the history of fashion?

In Dressing the body there are a series of iconic pieces in the exhibition and in the collection, which are separated from each other by some 50 years. It is worth mentioning the golden dress by Worth from 1858, Mariano Fortuny's Delphos tunic from 1908, the Cristóbal Balenciaga dress known as the peacock's tail (1958), the green dress with train by Josep Font from 2008 and the Espanya dress from Sybilla from 1992.

 “Dressing the body” has added 12 new pieces to the permanent exhibition. Under what criteria were they selected?

The pieces meet need to incorporate brands and designers who were not present at the exhibition, such as was the case with Armand Basi, Lydia Delgado, Emilio de la Morena, Isometric, Krizia Robustella, Brain and Beast, Carlotaoms and Celia Vela. We also wanted to cover the contemporary, with some very young designers, winners of the last 080 awards. It incorporates streetwear, fashion related to the world of sport, agender models, which represent the latest trends in fashion.

Of these 12 new acquisitions, which one could we say stands out above the rest?

It is not easy to pick just one. But it is true that some have achieved great international recognition, such as Sybilla and Markus Lupfer, the designer of the two Armand Basi pieces.

The fashion designer Alexander McQueen considered that “fashion should be a form of escapism, and not a form of imprisonment”. What do you think?

Imprisonment can be physical or mental. Fashion is escapism in that it creates fantasy and illusion, but at times it wants to change the appearance of the person, in accordance with the canons of beauty of each period. Sometimes, these don’t respect the natural forms of the body: it is squeezed into corsets, heels are made higher, skirts filled out with crinolines, etc.

Reduce, expand, extend, shape, uncover... to what new stage is fashion heading today?

Current fashion encompasses all the things we do to the body, but with a difference: we modify not only the form but we also act on the skin - tattoos and piercings - and the body: remove ribs, teeth or bones in the feet, we get cosmetic surgery to alter the hips, stomach and breasts. The widespread obsession to fight against ageing and excess weight goes beyond the dress and frames the new fashion trends.

Ajuntament de Barcelona