The exhibition at the Kunstmuseen Krefeld, for the first time, displayed the interrelations between art, fashion, photography, and dance, with context to the “Reform” movement between 1900 and 1914.

The artistic reform dress served as the beginning of new perspectives that could be seen at the Kunstmuseen Krefeld. The first exhibition took place in August 1900 in Krefeld, Germany, inspired by Friedrich Deneken, the founding director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum. Various dresses from several designers were put on display, including Henry van de Velde, Alfred Mohrbutter, Richard Riemerschmid and Margarete von Brauchitsch.

The pros and contras of – one of the most discussed reforms of women’s fashion and culture – corset, have been discussed for decades across the USA, UK and Europe. However, today women look out for something that is not just comfortable, but also sophisticatedly designed.

The curators Ina Ewers-Schultz and Magdalena Holzhey explain: “The artistic dress in all its varying manifestations becomes thus a focal point of the extensive European ‘Reform’ movements prior to the First World War. Artists as designers and the dress as a work of art: these ideas reduce age-old systems of values and role definitions to absurdity and signify a radical act of criticism of art and society.”

The lavish exhibition showcased the works of well-known artists, inlcuding Sonia Delaunay, Isadora Duncan, Emilie Flöge, Mariano Fortuny, Josef Hoffmann, Wassily Kandinsky, August Macke, Paul Poiret, Henry van de Velde, Heinrich Vogeler, Édouard Vuillard. A few artists that are not so popular as of now, such as Vanessa Bell, Mela Köhler, Frances MacNair and Margaret MacDonald, Ditha Moser, Anna Muthesius, Else Oppler, Mileva Roller or Emmy Schoch were also a part of the exhibition.

“The project displays in a unique way the new objectives of the Kunstmuseen Krefeld, which link the reappraisal of the rich history of the museum with a topical perspective and new research approaches,” said Katia Baudin, the director of the museum.

The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue with numerous essays, published in a German as well as in an English edition by Hirmer Verlag.