fashion's free exhibitions?

visually beautiful

a new form of marketing!

promotion of brands


London is currently playing host to two free fashion exhibitions: Chanel’s Mademoiselle Privé at the Saatchi Gallery, and Louis Vuitton Series 3.

Another similar exhibitions that i went to are the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the Barbican and, of course, Savage Beauty at the V&A. However,there is a crucial difference between them – apart from the fact that they were both paid-for, the JPG and McQueen retrospectives were curated by external curators and held in collaboration with the brands, the Chanel and Louis Vuitton exhibitions are operations produced in-house. 

Now – while the air of exclusivity remains – it seems that the barrier between fashion and its fans is slowly being lowered. Perhaps social media has woken houses up to the fact that the public “buying into” the brand doesn’t devalue it.

While purchasing a Louis Vuitton bag remains the privilege of a financial minority, taking home some stickers available for free at the gallery’s gift shop does not – and yet provides a small way in which people can access the brand. Similarly, entering the marble-floored confines of the Chanel’s New Bond Street establishment is an intimidating experience for most people, but going to a public exhibition is not. Here you’re permitted to marvel the craftsmanship of the house’s ateliers, without acting under the pretense of genuinely considering making a purchase. Louis Vuitton’s creative director Nicolas Ghesquière told Business of Fashion in July, expanding on the Series 3 exhibition.

However there’s something interesting about the houses’ decisions to display their designs in a gallery space, particularly in the case of Louis Vuitton, who are exhibiting their not-even-a-season-old AW15 collectionthe one that can be currently found in stores. In today’s climate, social media is a crucial component to any marketing strategy and one which exhibitions, particularly in the case of Instagram, are ideally catered towards.

In fact, Louis Vuitton Series 3 was specifically engineered to the app, providing grade-A feed fodder for the snap-happy generation of today’s fashion fans. This is something to which the 20,406 pictures (by today’s count) on the app tagged with #lvseries3 will attest. Just as shows provide a way for images of houses’ new collections to be transmitted all around the world, this exhibition does too, with pictures of Louis Vuitton’s new advertising campaigns, ready-to-wear and accessories (which are currently on-sale) flooding peoples’ feeds. Brands are marketing themselves through the carefully curated lens of a fashion exhibition. They are opening themselves up to a new, vast audience while maintaining their aura of exclusivity by presenting their products are high art, sometimes even hidden behind cases of glass.

As for whether these exhibitions are democratising fashion or a new form of marketing, the answer is perhaps a paradox: they are managing to do both.

© Kristina Armenovna Osipova, all rights reserved