London Guides: Must-Visit Exhibits, Summer 2018

While there’s never any dearth of intriguing exhibits to visit in London, this summer sees a particularly spectacular line-up on the art, cultural and fashion front.

From celebrating the iconic style of Frida Kahlo to a dazzling exploration of the very best art, design, jewellery and antiques in the world – here are the unmissable events and experiences, you should probably pencil in your diary now….

Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier, Design Museum

There are few designs as covetable as Azzedine Alaïa’s scuptural creations, moulded as a paean to the beauty of the female form.

Born in Tunisia – the son of wheat-farmers –  Alaïa trained as a sculptor before embarking on his meteoric rise as the most sought-after couturier, widely credited with inventing the concept of the supermodel through his intimate fashion shows.

A hypnotic new exhibition at the Design Museum (until 7 October 2018) pays tribute to over 60 of his most rare and dazzling garments – from his signature zipped dress to the stretch body, along with highlights such as the purple cowled and hooded gown worn by Grace Jones… Each piece is seen floating in suspension, bolstered by limbless mannequins. It’s a fitting tribute to the timeless aura surrounding his dreamlike dresses!

224-238 Kensington High St, Kensington, London W8 6AG |

Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up

Wardrobe inspiration further arrives in the charismatic form of Frida Kahlo’s clothing at the V&A, with the exhibit revealing an intimate look at the iconic artist’s dresses, shoes, jewellery, prosthetics and other personal items (16 June – 4 November 2018).

Following her death in 1954, these possessions remained hidden in a bathroom in her home, with her husband, Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, instructing that the door  should not be opened until 15 years had passed after his own death (which came in 1957). However, it was much later – in 2004  – when these items were discovered and restored!

The new exhibit offers a fascinating lens into how these items have formed an integral part of Kahlo’s art – from decorated corsets to a custom-designed prosthetic leg  (complete with a bell attached to a red lace up boot!).

Of course, since you’re already at the V&A, you might as well jump into the “Future Starts Here.”  The avant-garde show explores the designs and innovations shaping the world of tomorrow. Expect genetic experiments, wearable technologies, sea-faring drones and more… (until 4 November 2018).

Cromwell Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2RL \


Helmed by iconoclast Greyson Perry, the 250th rendition of the annual Summer Exhibition at The Royal Academy, is the most keenly anticipated event of the season yet (12 June – 19 August), bursting with bright colour and bold character.

The milestone birthday coincides with the opening of The New RA. Designed by English architect Sir David Chipperfield, the extended structure has opened new spaces for making, exhibiting – and even debating – art and architecture.

You can now idly amble between Burlington House and Burlington Gardens, stopping off at the shiny new Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries, where Tacita Dean delves into the notion of landscape (until 12 August 2018). Explore her immersive blackboard drawings and cloudscapes in chalk (on slate), before sitting down to view Antigone. Featuring poet Anne Carson and actor Stephen Dillane, the new 35mm film incorporates a multitude of places, geologies and seasons into a single cinematographic image… with mesmerising results!

6 Burlington Gardens London, W1S 3ET \

“Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy”

Other landmark museums to visit include Tate Modern, where you can glimpse a rare insight into the most pivotal year in Picasso’s career which saw him blur the boundaries between themes of beauty and terror, juxtaposing ecstasy against hysteria, abandon against agony… It all culminates in an experience which is as wildly provocative as it is chillingly-evocative! (Until 9 September 2018)

Bankside, London SE1 9TG | 

Masterpiece 2018

And then there’s the return of the world’s most distinguished art fair, Masterpiece London, where 150 of the world’s most eminent galleries will be curating the best of  fine art, design, jewellery and antiques.

The treasure trove of discoveries runs the gamut from medieval and renaissance jewellery through to cutting-edge contemporary designs from the likes of Cindy Chao (her art jewels exude an almost sculptural beauty!), Van Cleef & Arpels, Boghossían and Moussaieff; artworks by  iconic names from Monet and Miró, to Pissarro and Richter; not to mention a unique series of alabaster portraits by Marina Abramović, who is taking over this year’s Masterpiece Presents exhibition space.

It’s a truly dazzling affair which certainly merits your best heels and a glass of fizz (or a few) in hand as you meander around the transformed grounds of the grounds of The Royal Hospital Chelsea!

South Grounds, The Royal Hospital Chelsea, Chelsea, London SW3 4LW, UK 
Wednesday (preview day): 27 June ; Regular hours Thursday 28 June  – Wednesday 4 July 11am – 9pm |

Explore more things to do in London, here.

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