A ‘Vulgar’ Night at the Barbican

Vulgar – lacking sophistication or good taste (Oxford Dictionary)

Origin:  Late Middle English, from Latin vulgaris, from vulgus – common people.

When my friend Zaena (fashion blogger at The Last Straggler) invited me along to the Barbican Centre I was all game.  I had never been to the Barbican before (typical Londoner I know) so I was all up for exploring the area and attending the fashion exhibition called ‘The Vulgar.’


A rather unusual name for a fashion exhibition but this name looked into the question; ‘what makes something vulgar?’  And so I got to look upon the designs from the likes of Pam Hogg to Alexander McQueen to Galliano.  The clothes on display ranged from the weird and provocative to the beautiful and chic.   However this is all my own opinion of what I thought beautiful and another thought ‘vulgar’ and as Adam Philips states:

‘Vulgarity, like beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’

The running commentary by Adam Philips was very thought provoking making you realise how different we all are in our thinking and exploring how one defines vulgarity in fashion.  We all have different tastes and that is what makes fashion fascinating, exciting and diverse.

Quirky dress designs by  Iris van Herpen. Photo credit: Zaena @ The Last Straggler and Realm of Treasure boutique

I thoroughly enjoyed this exhibition and found some dresses breathtaking – it certainly gave me ideas for future dress designs for my brother’s wedding.  I would highly recommend you go have a gander at the exhibition, even if you are not into fashion it certainly had me thinking about how much the English language can adapt to how we want to define something.

I also got to explore in and around the Barbican Complex and it again made me question my ‘taste.’  For someone who gushes over London a lot, I always found the Barbican area kinda overpoweringly…UGLY.  It’s ugliness is so intense with its concrete high and brooding towers that the power it exudes kinda makes it attractive as well.


Imagine my surprise when I learnt that the whole complex is Grade II listed and that this type of architecture is called Brutalistic and is loved by many architects for its concrete rawness, ruggedness and lack of concern to look comfortable or easy.  I do love learning new things and discovering a new architectural style to admire had me staring at these buildings for ages.  In learning more about this style who knew that my beloved Southbank adorned by the Hayward Gallery and Queen Elizabeth Hall are also examples of Brutalist architecture.

Lakeside Terrace of the Barbican Complex at night

I will certainly be back to the Barbican since I enjoyed my first visit so thoroughly.  There is so much going on in and around the area and so many artistic pieces to admire within the centre.  I’m sure it will leave you questioning your ideas of vulagrity and taste in fashion, art and architecture. I’m a little glad we all have different views rather than be scripted to one set idea – it makes the world more beautiful!

44 by Omer Arbel in the entrance to the Barbican Centre

‘What happens to vulgarity when there is no consensus about standards or taste or style or aspiration?’

Adam Philips

Hope you enjoyed my review!

The 5 to 9 Traveller xx

Standing in front of Zarah Hussain’s sculputural installation Numina.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s