- Words Matilda Carnall
Feather boa-ed to the high heavens, V&A pays homage to the queens of the stage and screen in latest exhibition, ‘DIVA’ available to book now.
Immerse yourself in the sequin-bedecked glamour of V&A’s prima donna-devoted exhibition ‘DIVA’. Having just opened last Saturday, tickets are already selling out for some early dates of the show, which puts the limelight back on the leading ladies in the effervescent world of showbiz. Unravelling thread by sparkly thread what it means to be on stage and screen, the curators uncover how the role of ‘diva’ has been portrayed over time throughout music, film, and the stage.
From Lois Weber, who was considered to be one of “the most important and prolific film directors in the era of silent films”, to Tina Turner, the exhibition captures the power of leading female creatives. Originally, the term ‘diva’ referred to opera’s leading women – or prima donnas, where the usage has now semantically shifted to well-known stars on screen and the stage. Or, in more pejorative cases – and what this exhibition seems to veer from, self-important characters who are difficult to please.
As Amy Winehouse, whose pieces are featured in the offering, said ‘If being a diva is getting what you want and knowing how to go and get it, then I guess I’m a big f-ing fat diva.‘ The quotation, taken from a 2004 interview with Elle, shows how the star reclaimed the term. And, for Beyonce, also featured, the definition was even simpler. As she put so aptly in her unapologetic track, “Diva:, ‘Diva is a female version of a hustler’.
Alongside stars of the 21st century including Lizzo and Rihanna, the likes of 20th C heroines Josephine Baker and Marilyn Monroe’s displays dazzle with their old-time charm. Extending beyond the early origins of the term ‘diva’ as strictly female, V&A are also showing Elton John’s 50th birthday costume and Prince’s own high-heeled black satin booties – redefining the diva as simply someone who isn’t shy of the spotlight.
Running until the 7th of April 2024 at V&A South Kensington, tickets for DIVA are available to purchase on the museum’s site.