VICTORIA & ALBERT MUSEUM
June 24, 2023 – April 7, 2024
Whitney Houston performing at Wembley Arena, London 5 May 1988. Photograph © David Corio
Photograph of Maria Callas taken as Violette in La Traviata photography by Houston Rogers
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
DEBBIE HARRY © Chris Stein Rednight, Inc..
The V&A opened the first exhibition in June which celebrates the power and extraordinary creativity of iconic artists who have made their voices heard from the 19th century to the present day.
The exhibition will feature over 250 objects drawn from the V&A collection and loans from around the world, spanning fashion, photography, design, costume, music and live performance. Through a theatrical staging and sound headphone experience, "DIVA" celebrates the powerful and personal stories of creativity, ambition and resilience of some of the most well-known divas, opera goddesses and stars of the silent cinema to the sirens of the big screen and the global mega stars of today.
"DIVA" demonstrates the diva's phenomenal ability to transform, inspire and embrace the forces that help define, shape and revere a diva.
Diving into the origins of the term 'diva' - which means goddess in Italian - the exhibition explores how the meaning of the word has been adapted over time and how the label has been reclaimed by performers, their fans and society at large.
Tina Turner wearing the Flame dress designed by Bob Mackie (1980). Photo
by Gai Terrell, Redferns. Getty Images
Photographic negative, Billie Holiday at her only ever London appearance at the Albert Hall. Jack Parnell band backing her, photographed by Harry Hammond, England, 1954 Photo: Harry Hammond / © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
More than 60 looks are on display, many of which are rare or presented to the public for the first time. The most spectacular outfits have thus been made unforgettable by the talent of the artist who has worn them on stage or on screen.
From La Callas to Marilyn, from Tina Turner to Elton John or from Sarah Bernhardt to Cher, the stars twinkle in the firmament.
Today, the word diva has a myriad of meanings. At the heart of this exhibition is the story of icons who, with creativity, courage and ambition, challenged the status quo and used their voice and art to redefine and reclaim the concept of diva.
The Diva is a magician of the show and is all the more human once the lights are off. Sexual and untouchable, offered and unapproachable, a public mystery, this shooting star leaves on earth only its myth in images in the memory of an anonymous crowd who, far from understanding it, only wish to possess it for eternity.
Image of Grace Jones wearing Issey Miyake molded corset, Drury Lane, 1981.
Photograph © David Corio
Cher, Elton John and Diana Ross at Rock Awards Santa Monica Civic Auditorium 1975; Various Locations; Mark Sullivan 70’s Rock Archive Photo: Mark Sullivan/Contour by Getty Images