The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) will showcase more than 250 looks that celebrates iconic performers in a new Diva exhibition which opens on June 24.
Five famous fashion looks by Rihanna will be on display, including the 2023 Oscar dress that showcased her pregnancy bump, as well as the 2018 Met Gala high-fashion papal look with jewel-encrusted robe.
Kate Bailey, curator of Diva, said: “At the heart of this exhibition is a story of iconic performers who with creativity, courage and ambition have challenged the status quo and used their voice and their art to redefine and reclaim the diva.
“[Rihanna] embodies the spirit of the 19th century divas and shows us today how divas don’t just create art, they are culture-makers, entrepreneurs and activists.”
“We are delighted to showcase a range of objects that reflect how Rihanna has used her authentic voice to make a difference – from Bajan ambassador, to style icon, to music pioneer.”
The Diva exhibition will showcase over 250 items from the V&A collection, including Tina Turner’s iconic flame dress from the 1970s as well as other fashion ensembles worn by Marilyn Monroe, Pink, Sir Elton John and Dame Shirley Bassey.
Dame Shirley said she was “delighted” to find out her Glastonbury look with diamante boots would be put on show, and said: “It is wonderful to see the diva celebrated in this exhibition, and to see the V&A reclaiming the title.”
“To me, ‘diva’ is all about the power of the voice and the ability to entertain, to succeed against odds, to fight, and break through barrier after barrier: to have your voice heard.”
The exhibition will look into the intersection between politics and performance and how artists and actors use their profile to raise awareness for civil rights and social change.
Act one of the exhibit will provide a historical context to the concept of the “diva” and will celebrate opera stars and actresses from Hollywood’s golden age.
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Act two will look at what it means to be a diva today, featuring garments from artists like Dolly Parton and Barbra Streisand.
The exhibition will take place at the V&A in London from June 24, 2023, to April 7, 2024.