The Vulgar - Fashion Redefined

The Vulgar - Fashion Redefined

The concept of 'vulgar' in fashion


The word ‘vulgar’ was originally used in the English-speaking world to characterize a social class and to describe anything that was commonly prevalent. Over time, this neutral description became an insult. Vulgarity became associated with pretension and ambition, with aspirations to special privileges. And it still conjures up negative connotations – words like ‘provocative’, ‘over the top’ and ‘common’ spring to mind. 

Curator Judith Clark

Judith Clark has curated and designed the exhibition around 12 new definitions of the word by psychoanalyst Adam Phillips. Arranged around thematic categories, such as ‘Too Much’, ‘Showing Off’ and ‘Extreme Bodies’, Clark and Phillips enter into a dialogue that accompanies the visitor through the exhibition. Creations by Walter Van Beirendonck, Christian Dior, Karl Lagerfeld for Chloé, Prada, Vivienne Westwood, Louis Vuitton and Givenchy amongst others illustrate this complex idea. The exhibition combines historical costume, couture and ready-to-wear fashion with every exhibit reflecting certain aspects of the vulgar. The garments illustrate the instability of taste: what was once equated with vulgarity is re-conjured by designers to become the height of fashion. 

Mantua dresses

Mantua dresses with their extremely large skirts and dramatic silhouettes, which were worn at the English court in the mid-eighteenth century are presented next to creations by contemporary designers. The famous ‘Mondrian dress’ by Yves Saint Laurent engages with copies and reworked versions, and the popular designs by Moschino are confronted with Andy Warhol inspired 1960's Souper dress.

International top exhibition

This unique and acclaimed exhibition was previously shown at The Barbican Art Gallery in London and at the Winterpalais in Vienna. For the exhibition in Hasselt new looks from the museum’s collection will be added. ‘The Vulgar’ at Modemuseum Hasselt- located in a former convent- promises to be a provocative and engaging experience. 

More information

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date