V&A Unveil Uniforms More Suitable For Rambling Than Museuming

V&A Uniforms Christopher Raeburn

V&A staff have new uniforms designed by the British fashion designer Christopher Raeburn. Sorry, Tristram, you could have done much better! You are in fact a museum with a well-respected fashion collection! This collection of ill-fitting shell suits would be more suitable on Ramblers or the Olympic track than in the halls of a museum that is known for design. The new V&A Uniforms consist of various ‘Street” garments and bespoke accessories that can be mixed, matched and layered, and featuring a print inspired by the V&A’s collection. The new uniforms will be introduced at the V&A in South Kensington and Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green this week.

I cant imagine the GQ dapper V&A Director Tristram Hunt in one of these – AL

There is nothing smart about this collection. It will be difficult to discern the guards and helpers from the public. Only a highly trained eye will be able to pick staff out. If it weren’t for the V&A logos the annorac looking jackets are lost. I cant imagine the GQ dapper, V&A Director Tristram Hunt in one of these outfits and would be more than surprised if he would be caught dead in one.

Christopher Raeburn’s fashion collection was featured in the V&A’s Fashion in Motion series in 2016 and has resulted in this collaboration to reimagine the staff uniform. Connecting directly to the V&A’s collection, the new print featured on many of the uniform pieces is formed from the silhouettes of 20 iconic objects. They include a 19th Japanese netsuke in the shape of a rabbit; a Spacehopper from 1970s Britain, Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s sculpture Neptune and Triton (1622-3), and a 1870s rocking horse from France currently displayed in the V&A Museum of Childhood. The uniforms consist of a layering system, from t-shirts to a tote bag and rainproof parka with flexibility for staff to combine with trousers or skirts of their choosing.

The contrasting colours of orange and blue on the mainly nylon look fabric are more suitable for an umbrella than a uniform at a major museum…. Bring back drab suits… The new uniform takes supposedly inspiration from Raphael’s The Miraculous Draught of Fishes on display in the V&A, and blends with Christopher Raeburn’s signature colours. All aspects of the uniform feature classic Christopher Raeburn touches, including parachute details and a layering system. Raeburn’s ethos of responsible design has ensured a focus on certified recycled and organic materials throughout.

The new V&A uniforms will be worn by staff across the V&A, including gallery assistants, retail staff and volunteers. Christopher Raeburn has designed the uniforms responding to specific feedback from front-of-house staff, resulting in bespoke pieces that work across a range of temperatures and reflect the needs of different staff throughout the V&A. The carefully considered layering system of t-shirts, polos, crews, bomber jackets, pack away lightweight jackets and rainproof parkas provide an all-year-round unique uniform solution. Printed tote bags, lanyards and ties add further detail, providing support, function and style across the V&A team.

The launch of the new V&A Uniforms, the first in over a decade, comes at the end of a successful year for the V&A which saw the opening of the V&A Exhibition Road Quarter, blockbuster exhibitions from Pink Floyd to Plywood, record visitor figures, the opening of the V&A’s first international gallery as part of Design Society in Shekou, Shenzhen, and the V&A being crowned Trip Advisor Museum of the Year for the UK.

Tristram Hunt, V&A Director, says: “It’s been a record-breaking year at the V&A, and our front of house staff are at the heart of our visitors’ experience day in day out. We are delighted to have worked with Christopher Raeburn on these brilliant, colourful, adaptable new uniforms. They are an exciting development for our team and a reflection of the V&A’s contemporary style, as we look forward to another ambitious year of activity in South Kensington and around the country”.

Christopher Raeburn says: “Exploring the Victoria and Albert Museum was one of my earliest childhood memories, I went on to study Fashion Design a stones throw away at the Royal College of Art and would spend hours delving into the archive at the V&A so having this opportunity to develop responsibly designed uniforms for an institution so close to my heart has been an incredible honour”

This is the most disappointing set of garments we’ve seen since Stella McCartney’s Team GB uniforms were launched in 2012. One more comment look at the expressions on the staff members on the ends … Please bring back suits!

V&A Uniforms have been generously supported by V&A Members, with volunteers uniforms also supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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