Last Thursday’s Ally Capellino exhibition launch was a treat for the eyes on several counts. Firstly, the venue. Yes, the Wapping Project is a bitch to get to but once inside, it’s well worth the trek. The triple-height space of this former hydraulic power station lends itself perfectly to an impressive wall of bags, topped with gigantic Ally Capellino signage.
Ally Capellino has been in and out of fashion for the past 30 years. Designer Alison Lloyd has gone from clothing design to recently focussing on accessories (running a whole fashion line proved too much of a headache) but throughout has maintained a legion of hardcore fans. The clothes are of the wearable utilitarian variety so you’ll see no feats of McQueen-esque engineering here, which is why this lovingly curated show works so well. Yes, the clothes are displayed but in context, so the designs are hung against suitably utilitarian pegboard, juxtaposed with magazine and newspaper cuttings, photographs and typed notes which narate the Ally Capellino story. As a lover of collage and moodboards, I really enjoyed this element of the show which was art directed by Rupert Blanchard*.
The exhibition incorporates some wonderfully interactive elements. Exhibits have been sourced from Ally Capellino’s loyal customers and the website allows visitors to upload their own pictures of their well-loved Capellino pieces. Happening upon a pair of familiar-looking mannish lace-up shoes (below) I had an ‘ooh’ moment. Readers, I am the proud owner of an identical pair of these shoes! Mine were bought from Ally Capellino’s Wardour Street store in (I think) the mid-’90s. They were in the sale, reduced as they were a mis-matched pair. One is a 5 and the other a 5 ½. You can’t tell though, honest. The shoes are made by Church’s which will explain why they have lasted more than a decade. (Yes I know they could do with a polish.)
Another lovely feature of the exhibition is Donald Christie’s life size portraits. Lloyd persuaded her friends to be photographed, self-styled in their favourite Capellino pieces. These pictures add a charming human quality to the show – what better way to display clothes that being enjoyed by their satisfied owners?
*Check out Rupert’s salvage blog. Awe-inspiring