Invitation Strictly Personal: Fashion x Graphics


On Saturday  I headed to Somerset house with the girls to see the infamous Beard exhibition. After showing our appreciation for Photography & hot bearded guys I persuaded Lucy & Nadia to accompany me downstairs to the Invitation Strictly Personal exhibition.


Notes, sketches and invites collected by Iain.R.Webb, this exhibition is an insight into fashion graphics history. From shiny foiling, personalised handkerchiefs and tran tickets…


…. to fluorescent die cuts (for Kenzo) and rustic keys (for John Galliano) – although for most, Fashion shows are about the clothes on the catwalk, to me as a Graphic Designer it shows that every detail matters. The Fashion shows concept has evolved from the standard ‘models walking down a catwalk’ to become a theatrical performance and experience. Anything could happen – stumbles, animals and celebrities – most recently we saw Zoolander 2 announced via the Valentino runway show at Paris Fashion Week.

But before the main event, the invitation sets the mood and standard for the show – everyone knows that first impressions are important, and they should excite and build hype for the collection. It began with standard stationery; a postcard, a logo or photo on card or maybe a flash of foil for a luxury feel.


As fashion pushed the boundaries, the invitations followed suit – wax seal stamps, collages, crazy masks and psychedelic holographic paper…


…although not all invites are so considered, just look at this from a Vivienne Westwood show:

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It was great to see design considered from a fashion perspective for a change – the two go hand in hand, although sometimes they feel very separate. Graphic Design can be so timeless and so temporary – invitations are not necessarily made to be kept, but if these things are thrown away decades of design can be lost forever. It’s a good job that there are some hoarders out there… myself included!

The exhibition is intimate, interesting and FREE – get yourself to the Great Arch Hall (South Wing) before next Sunday (22nd March) to see for yourself.


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© Natasha Nuttall | January 2022

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