The Vogue 100 Exhibition – National Portrait Gallery, London

As part of my birthday celebrations myself and my boyfriend had a great day out in London recently and I got to do one of the things I love doing – visiting art galleries.  The Vogue 100 exhibition had been on my ‘to do’ list since it opened in February and I was thrilled to be able to go and see it.  But the question is, is it worth seeing?

Once you enter the exhibition through pillars of different Vogue covers you are faced with this huge image of the late great Lee McQueen and a stark room with a  small selection of the past 100 years most iconic images from which you can then access the different areas grouped by decade.

The layout is quite a strange one as it doesnt run in chronological order so I made my way to the ‘century of magazines’ area first and then worked forward from the 1920’s finally ending in the film area.

I went into to one of the end rooms first  – The ‘Century of Magazines’ room

This room showed a copy of Vogue from every year of the 100 years it has been in publication…including the very first copy (pictured). It is breathtaking to see how a publication can represent its era, carry on through two world wars, touch politics, feminism and the changes to the world that happened during that time but still be a great fashion magazine.

 Another great room was ‘The Planning Room’ 

In this room you entered a darkened space with negatives from all eras presented on top of light boxes and series’ of shoot images being projected on the wall showing how many shots the Vogue team would see before they picked ‘the one’.

  

And then there were the rooms of the different decades…

My highlights

The 1920s/30s –

Aristocracy mixed with silent film stars and glamour girls. Many of the images looked as modern now as they did 100 years ago…


The 1940s – against all the glamour the starkness of these reportage shots from the WW2 really made you realise Vogue was never just a frivolous fashion magazine…

And seeing key fashion illustrations in real life, remembering they had been done at the time and were of the most contemporary fashions.

The 1950’s – this room held some of the most glamorous photos including original by Cecil Beaton and Norman Parkinson…

The 1960s – Probably my favourite era, style wise, I loved the tone of this room with its retro textured wallpaper and full wall shot of David Hockney, his assistant and glamorous model Maudie James in his studio by Cecil Beaton…

 

The 1970’s – a strange mix of glamour, sexist sterotyping and the grungy beginnings of punk rock. Probably my least favourite of all the rooms although this Helmut Newton pic taken the year I was born stood out…

The 1980s – Big, brash and bold was the order of the day in this room…

The 1990’s- a key time in British fashion with film stars and artists suddenly taking up as many shots as the models and the grungy ‘Heroin Chic’ style starting to appear…

The 2000s and onwards – it is quite breathtaking to see so many iconic images in one place – the curation was perfect and you really ‘felt’ each decade and its subtle changes…

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And finally (of course!) the shop

Look at these amazing Biscuiteers biscuits!  The Vogue 100 book was great too but I’ve got to be honest I’m not going to buy it for a ‘special price’ of £35 in the gallery when Amazon have it for £26. The vintage copies of Vogue on sale (from £35) were tempting though… 

I just adored this exhibition and would definitely recommend a trip. It runs until 22nd May 2016 and adult tickets are £17.00 each.  If youve been I’d love to know your thoughts…

National Portrait Gallery

St Martin’s Place
London
WC2H 0HE
020 7306 0055

Opening hours

Daily 10.00 – 18.00
Thursdays and Fridays until 21.00.
Last admission to the exhibition is one hour before the Gallery closes.
Exiting commences ten minutes before the closing time.

Ripleys Believe it or Not – London

As you may know, in our family there are 6 of us. Myself, my partner, my 8yo son and my partners three sons of 23, 8 and 3). Being in a blended family has its challenges, but also can be wonderful too. My ‘stepson’ Cam’s (although we are not married I refer to my partners younger children as my stepsons as I bring them up 50% of the time) birthday was last month and we looked to organise a fun day out in London he would enjoy.

IMG_9130 We settled on Ripleys Believe it or Not in Piccadilly and booked tickets for the Saturday. I’d been past it so many times as its in such a busy part of London but never really found out what it was. Well I think it’s a hidden gem for families! Due to the type of attraction it is we choose to not take our youngest as at three he wouldn’t really understand what he was seeing, so a family ticket for two adults and two children’s was all we needed. Now, tickets for Ripleys are not cheap – the family ticket bought online is the cheapest option at £67.96 and you can also use Tesco Clubcard tokens too. After a quick search on the internet though I found a buy one get one free offer so all together for the four of us it cost £45.82 – not bad for a central London attraction. Ripleys is in a fantastic building just off of Leicester Square and the attraction has over 700 artefacts spanning six floors, 19 themed galleries, plus an additional Laser Race area which certain entrance tickets cover.

IMG_1445 Inside it really is a mass of things to look at – mostly totally random but lots of fun. I didnt realise that Ripley has been a real person who spent his life collecting the unusual and the rare for people to then visit – there is information about him all through the tour – he must of been an amazing character. Some of it is probably a bit silly for older kids (knitted car, giant chair, upside down room) but for two 8 year olds it was perfect! There are crazy objects, models of record breaking things such as the worlds tallest man, the smallest piece of art, ornate coffins, animal skeletons and bits of meteor to name but a few…

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IMG_9133 Parts of it are more like a traditional museum whereas other parts are much more interactive. You can walk through a medieval dungeon with all its torture equipment, see Olympic Torches from throughout the years and look at crazy optical effects like walking through a tunnel of moving light that makes you think you are moving upside down.

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IMG_1444 I have to say I loved it! I loved seeing all the different art made from crazy things, part of the Berlin Wall and walking through a hall of mirrors. The boys loved the interactive parts such as the light tunnel, creating virtual graffiti as the Berlin Wall and feeling how cold the water was when the Titanic sank.

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IMG_9144 The Laser Race Attraction at the end of the tour had long queues when we got to it, but to be fair we moved to the front quite quickly. You go in as a family and then have to navigate through to rob the bank vault without setting off the alarm via the laser sensors. The boys loved the idea and did really well but be warned you do have to wiggle all over the floor like a cat burglar!!! No good if you’re wearing a dress!

There were a few parts I found a bit ‘too’ weird – there was a whole section on real life freaks and some of the real shrunken heads (including a film on how they were made) were quite macabre! At the end of the journey there is of course a gift shop which is over priced and mainly full of sweets and a hard sell if the £25 posed photo books of you in Ripley style pith helmets they encourage you to pose for. However you can leave via the Laser Race route, which we did to avoid the cries of “Mum/Dad can I have…” We had a great day and I’d definitely recommend it. Book the tickets in advance and definitely don’t pay the price on the door and avoid the gift shop. But if you have kids under 12 I think its a great day out that will keep them talking (and thinking) for long after they leave. Find out more on the Ripleys website here. Photo sources my own or via the link above.