Showing posts with label Exhibitions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Exhibitions. Show all posts
V&A Faberge in London: Romance to Revolution banner image

Peter Carl Fabergé is renowned for his collection of Imperial Easter Eggs. A collection of 50 stunning eggs made with incredible craftsmanship that can fetch an eye wateringly obscene amount when sold. But there’s more to the goldsmith than his collection of egg-shaped gifts made for Russian royalty. 

The Victoria and Albert museum (V&A) are currently running Fabergé in London: Romance to Revolution, an exhibition exploring the man behind the internally recognised brand symbolising luxury, elegance and fine Russian craftsmanship. It focuses mainly on the relationship the brand had with London, when it opened (I believe) the only store outside of Russia in 1903.


I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of Fabergé, far from it, but I have been intrigued as to why a simple statue could fetch a cool £3 million at an auction. If you’re looking for an artistic review of Fabergé, this is probably the wrong place but I will give you my honest review of the exhibition and my thoughts around the firm.


Inside the exhibition

V&A Faberge in London: Romance to Revolution banner image


The exhibition itself was very interesting. It told the story and history of the man himself and the about the brand. It explained the relationship it had with London and it’s very royal customer base. You weren’t allowed to take any photographs in the exhibit but that makes sense with how valuable the items were. 

And there were A LOT of them! It gave you a good feel of the firm and the type of pieces they created.
Items made by Fabergé combined fiercely expensive jewels and stones with less expensive materials such as enamel (a technique fusing metal and glass). 

Fabergé was a brand clearly designed and catering for the wealthiest who could afford the simplest of items but had plenty of money to afford an extravagant version. A lot of his clientele were royalty in some form- you’d have to be to afford the price in that era. A crystal Coronation vase was purchased for £430 which is worth about £4.8 million today. Similarly, a collection of silver bowls indented with a design cost the owner £250 but it now worth about £3.8 million today. 


With that said that, the exhibition displayed an equal amounts of purely decorative extravagance alongside utilitarian items including a boot lace hook that had been used so many times, the firm had to re-enamel the handle. There were many cigarette cases that looked somewhat ‘average’ but was made from enamel and had a thin stream of delicate tiny demands flowing through.

Fabergé also made a lot of animal figurines for the royal family. The placard explained some of them had been made purely for its artistic value than anything else. While I’m not entirely sure I can appreciate the value of a French bulldog made from Bowenite with diamond eyes, the level of detail was impeccable. You could pick out every hair and wrinkle on the dog, something that is not easy to do when you're carving stone. My favourite figurine on display was a snail. It was smaller than my fingernail but my oh my was the level of detail outstanding.

I made reference to the Imperial Easter eggs at the beginning and it wouldn’t be a good exhibition if they didn’t exhibit any. Right at the end, you can see some of the eggs from the most popular and memorable Fabergé collection up close. These can fetch a staggering amount at an auction  one estimated to be worth $33 million — but the story behind the one-of-a-kind collection is a sweet romantic tale.

In 1885, Russian Emperor Alexander III asked Fabergé to make an Imperial Easter egg for his wife Empress Maria Feodorvna. A unique egg was then gifted every year marking an occasion in the family. Their son Nicolas II carried on the tradition following his father’s death. 


I don’t think a picture could ever do the Egg justice. It’s something you have to see in person to fully understand what makes them so precious and more than a one of a kind item. To see the individual brick markings on the Moscow Kremlin Egg or the fragility of the hundreds of minuscule diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires on the Mosaic Egg could not be captured in a photograph.


Final Thoughts


The exhibition was fascinating. It was very informative but on a subject I think you’d need to have known a little about and have an interest in. I made use of my V&A Under 26 membership so it was free for me. At £20 a ticket, I feel you’re going to a bit bored if you’re not intrigued by who Fabergé was or if you don’t have an interest in jewelled items.

Love, Aoife xo


The Design Museum is currently showcasing the talents of Azzedine Alaïa in Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier. Alaïa sadly passed away last November (2017). The exhibition was co-curated with the man himself showcasing his Haute Couture and Ready To Wear collections from over the decades.

But first, what is Haute couture? Haute couture translates to 'high sewing' or in other words 'needlework'. Haute couture garments have been made to order, sewn by hand, and are fitted individually to the customer. One of the many reasons as to why couture is so exclusive and has a high price tag. Tunisian-born designer Azzedine Alaïa began his haute couture career at Christian Dior (under Yves Saint Laurent) and later at Guy Laroche before establishing his own fashion house.

I visited the exhibition a few weeks ago and it is absolutely breathtaking! It's held in this large open space and divided into mini sections, each containing a couture collection. I loved walking around the room, around the masterpieces. The silhouettes were ridiculous. Each dress was figure hugging and clung to the curves of the mannequin. I felt so inadequate surrounded by them as they stood propped up on podiums. Each mannequin had been cut to fit the dress which gave the impression it was standing up by itself. It was like each piece demanded attention and respect. For the designer and the craft.




My favourite collections from the exhibit were Exploring Volume and Sculptural Tension, Alaïa's final haute couture collection (above). Exploring Volume had a Hollywood feel, of glitz and glamour. I also loved the contrast in Sculptural Tension, between the resistance and solidity associated with metal and the delicacy of the chiffon and stature of the dress. The most unusual collection was Other Places, Other Cultures. One of the items had been made from a hair-type material; it was a little bizarre but intriguing at the same time.


Student, £10.75. Adult, £14.50. Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier. Until 7th October. Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High Street, W8 6AG, London. Find out more at the Design Museum.

Love, Aoife x