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Review: Kylie Minogue's wardrobe at the V&A

21 February 2007

Even more often than the line 'I should be so lucky', you're going to hear one thing repeated over and over if you go to this show: 'Oooh, in't she tiny?'. She is. Tiny.

In this exhibition at London's V&A Museum, you can get up close with Kylie Minogue's best-known costumes from stage and TV. To provide context, there are a couple of giant screens showing the single videos and live footage.

Photo of the exhibition floor, with big picture of Kylie behind mannequins modelling her clothes

The main exhibition floor. Photo ©V&A Museum

But the best costumes, you'll recognise immediately. There's the flimsy hooded costume from 'Can't get you out of my head', which must surely require sticky tape to avoid a wardrobe malfunction. There's the vampish yellow fluffy top and shorts worn in the 'Confide in Me' video and the silver spacegirl get-up from the recent tours. And to kick it all off, we have the virginal white dress she wore in 'I should be so lucky'.

One of the highlights is the recreation of Kylie's dressing room. You can see the dentists' chair she applies her make-up in, the marked-up photo pinned to the mirror to guide her, and the teddies given to her by fans. Although it's staged, there's fascinating detail.

Photo of Kylie's dressing room at the exhibition

The showgirl's restaged dressing room. Photo ©V&A Museum

There are some fantastic photos as well. At a time when most artwork is published no larger than 5x5 inches, it's good to see shots from Light Years and other sessions blown up large. If you enjoy photography, that bit alone is worth dropping in for. Kylie's record releases are collected and mounted too, which is perhaps the best illustration of how she has toyed with her image over time.

Some of the show is just memorabilia: the jumpsuit she wore as Charlene in Neighbours doesn't say anything about fashion or style. The gold hotpants from a car boot sale are only there because Kylie's been in them. The various trophies and gold disks assert her credibility as an A-lister, but don't add much else.

There's been a lot of chin-stroking in the press about whether a national institution should be 'dumbing down' by displaying a pop star's wardrobe. Private Eye published a spoof advert inviting you to see Kylie's pants at the "T&A... surely V&A? - Ed". In many cases journalists have focused on the infamous hot pants, which says more about the hacks than the curators and visiting public. This show's a good match for the V&A's fashion collections, and it's no bad thing if more of the taxpayers who underwrite the museum are attracted through its doors.

It's not a massive exhibition: three rooms of costumes, a small room playing a video and the dressing room. But you can spend a fascinating hour there, and there aren't many other pop stars with the style to pull off a show like this.

The exhibition runs until 10 June 2007. Pre-booking strongly recommended. Tickets are free, but there is a £2 fee for booking online. Feel free to leave your comments below.

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10th birthday update: accessibility, affiliate marketing and more

11 February 2007

This site celebrates its tenth birthday round about now and to mark the occasion I've given it a spring clean. Some content has been removed, but nothing you're likely to miss (do tell me if I'm wrong - perhaps I'll bring it back again). I've improved the design, particularly the navigation. It should be easier to explore and find what you're looking for now.

I've also added lots of new/old stuff from my archives.

I wrote, I think, the first big story in a UK web design magazine about accessibility, published in Internet Magazine in 2000. Today any decent website designer is aware of accessibility, but back then few people were interested. The editor at another magazine turned down a pitch on the subject, saying it was a minority issue of no interest to businesses.

Over the years, awareness of accessibility has increased. But I know many people still struggle to understand why they should and how they can create a more inclusive website. And I know a lot of designers can't be arsed, and their clients, who are ultimately responsible for the accessibility of the sites they buy, let them get away with it.

I've now added some of my later articles explaining accessibility to my webmaster tutorials. I hope that they will inspire more people to consider users with disabilities in their website designs, and will provide some helpful guidance on eliminating the biggest barriers.

The accessibility stories (new and old) are:Internet Works magazine commissioned some monster stories from me in 2004 about affiliate marketing and web analytics. Some of the interviewees might have moved jobs, and some of the minor sites have disappeared, but the advice is still valid. For that reason I've uploaded those stories too.

In the journalism resources section, there's a new article about writing for the web.

The quality of the scans of rock and pop photos has been dramatically improved, and this is now reflected where they are used in the music articles too. My list of places where you can promote your music has also been refreshed.

Finally, there's a new gallery of photos of Sydney, Australia. One of my pictures of the Opera House was part of an architecture exhibition in Paris last year. There's a much cleaner scan of that too.

If you want to see what the first version of this site looked like, there's a screenshot of this site from 1997 here. It would have looked right at home on geocities.

Here's to the next ten years. Cheers!

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New Rock and Pop Photography gallery

02 February 2007

Photo of Whale

I've had a few happy weekends scanning old photos recently, and I've now updated my Rock and Pop Photography gallery with the results. New acts include My Life Story, Babybird, Noel Gallagher, Whale (pictured above) and the first incarnation of The Lovers. The photos were all taken in the late nineties, which I realise in some cases means they're ten years old. What can I say? I've been kinda busy.

I used to enjoy using the dark room, but I was never particularly patient or precise, so it was hard to get good results. People wearing black clothes in low light in front of a black background aren't the easiest subjects to print. So it's been a joy to see how the scanner has made light work of this (ho ho) and enabled me to make 'prints' that were too difficult using chemicals.

It looks like the site's been quiet in January but I've been doing a lot of spring cleaning behind the scenes. Excuse my dust during the renovations. There will be more new content coming soon. If you use an RSS reader, please subscribe to the RSS feed to be kept informed.

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