Venue Hire

Fashion Icons Past and Present

Portraits Including Maisie Williams, Stormzy and Audrey Hepburn on display at Ulster Museum

Kathryn Thompson and Kim Mawhinney
Ulster Museum
Date published

A Century of Style: Fashion Photography from the National Portrait Gallery is a new exhibition, created in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery in London.

39 fashion photography portraits are now on display at Ulster Museum in A Century of Style: Fashion Photography from the National Portrait Gallery, an exhibition curated in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery in London. Designed to showcase the role that fashion plays in defining culture, the portraits included have been captured by some of the world’s most celebrated fashion photographers such as Cecil Beaton, Irving Penn, Norman Parkinson and Miles Aldridge, with the subjects all style icons from the last century including David Bowie, Loretta Young and Twiggy.

Kim Mawhinney, Senior Curator of Art at National Museums NI said the exhibition is a significant opportunity for people to redefine their understanding of art. She explained:

“Fashion photography emerged as a profession in the early 20th century with its primary purpose to showcase and promote clothing designs. However, in more recent times, fashion photography has grown to be appreciated as an art form, often contributing to contemporary culture. Together with the National Portrait Gallery we have created a captivating exhibition that will challenge some people’s perception of art, whilst also allowing people to be inspired by the essence and beauty of the fashion featured.

“Interestingly, the portraits show how fashion styles continually evolve and change, something the Ulster Museum’s wider fashion collection captures really well through designers such as Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Alexander McQueen, Philip Treacy, Burberry and Vivienne Westwood; showcasing an array of traditional and contemporary design.”

The exhibition of photographs has made its way to Northern Ireland as part of the National Portrait Gallery’s Inspiring People project, which is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Art Fund and aims to bring the Gallery closer to communities across the UK.

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London said:

“We are delighted to be partnering with Ulster Museum on the National Skills Sharing Partnership as part of our transformational Inspiring People project. By working collaboratively with museums and galleries in this way we hope to encourage the exchange of skills and knowledge which will benefit both museum professionals and our audiences, and to develop collaborative displays which will make our portraits accessible to many more people across the UK.”

Kathryn Thomson, Chief Executive of National Museums NI echoed Dr Cullinan’s thoughts and said:

A Century of Style: Fashion Photography from the National Portrait Gallery is a stunning exhibition which will have a huge appeal to our visitors. The partnership with National Portrait Gallery is very important to ensure people here in Northern Ireland have the opportunity to access a wide range of art.  In addition, the exhibition means we are able to continue to offer diverse programming at the Ulster Museum, which attracts wide varied audiences.”

A Century of Style: Fashion Photography from the National Portrait Gallery will be open until 30th September 2023 and is free to visit as part of general admission to Ulster Museum