Wondering what to pack for your travels this summer?
Don’t sweat it — you’ll never be able to compete with the wonderful garments (some gorgeous, some outlandish) now on display at museums around the world, anyway.
A rash of single-designer shows are being staged, offering enticing exhibits on everyone from fierce originals (St. Laurent, McQueen) to avant garde visionaries (Gaultier, Yamamoto) to consummate traditionalists (Balenciaga, Gres). So, go look, and then look some more — but don’t touch.
Balenciaga and Spain, de Young Museum, San Francisco. Through July 4.
From the black lace of a mantilla to the red of a matador’s cape, this imaginative exhibit examines how Spanish culture and history influenced the sumptuous gowns of Cristobal Balenciaga. Besides religion and bullfighting, the show also looks at Spanish dance, art, court life and peasantry.
Yohji Yamamoto, Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Through July 10
Incorporating the Japanese designer’s deconstructed creations into site specific installations throughout the museum, this exhibit is as resolutely architectural, as modest and arrogant — to use Yamamoto’s phrase — as the work itself. In a nod to the premium that the designer placed on fabric, mannequins are placed so that museumgoers can walk around and between them, to get up close to the Kyoto textiles.
Saint Laurent rive gauche, Fondation Pierre Berge-Yves Saint Laurent, Paris. Through July 17.
Displayed in a recreation of YSL’s first Paris boutique, the 70 ensembles presented here come from the designer’s pret a porter label, which he created in 1966, five years after founding his haute couture house. The line sportily borrowed from menswear, freeing up women’s clothes in a way that hadn’t been done much before.
Madame Gres: Couture at Work, Musee Bourdelle, Paris. Through July 24.
The first retrospective in Paris for the designer known for her sculptural approach to fashion, the show offers 80 gowns on loan from the Galliera Museum and private collectors. In her best work, Madame Gres, born Germaine Krebs, brought simplicity to new heights with her elegant, draped gowns in muted shades of ivory or gray.
Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC. Through Aug. 7.
Although the Alexander McQueen label supplied the gown for the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the house built its reputation on edgier, statement designs invoking political and historical themes. The exhibition highlights six McQueen collections; accessories by the late British designer’s partners, including milliner Philip Treacy and jewelry designer Shaun Leane; and extensive video. A highlight is the famous hologram of model Kate Moss from a 2006 runway show.
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal. Through Oct. 2.
The lengthy title of this career retrospective seems apt, given the frenetic quality of this French designer’s work. The show is organized under tantalizing categories, such as The Boudoir, Punk Cancan and Urban Jungle, and offers up a trove of video, as well as fashion and art photography by the likes of Andy Warhol, Richard Avedon, Cindy Sherman and Herb Ritts.