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New V&A show ‘DIVA’ salutes and studies top stars

New V&A show 'DIVA' salutes and studies top stars

What makes a diva? A new exhibition at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum explores this question by celebrating some of the most influential female performers of the past century.

The show, titled ‘DIVA: The Power of Women in Music’, features costumes, instruments, memorabilia, and footage from icons such as Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Madonna, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift.

The exhibition traces the evolution of diva culture from the early 20th century to the present day, highlighting how these women have shaped popular music and culture through their talent, style, activism, and charisma.

‘DIVA’ also examines the challenges and stereotypes that female artists have faced and overcome in a male-dominated industry, as well as the impact of technology and social media on their careers and image.

Some of the highlights of the show include:

  • A sequined gown worn by Billie Holiday in 1948
  • A red leather jacket and skirt worn by Madonna in her 1984 ‘Like a Virgin’ video
  • A crystal-encrusted bodysuit worn by Beyoncé during her 2016 ‘Formation’ world tour
  • A guitar signed by Taylor Swift
  • A meat dress worn by Lady Gaga at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards

The exhibition also features interactive elements, such as a karaoke booth where visitors can sing along to their favorite diva songs, and a photo booth where they can pose with props and accessories inspired by the stars.

‘DIVA’ is curated by Victoria Broackes, who previously co-curated the V&A’s blockbuster exhibitions ‘David Bowie Is’ and ‘Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains’. She said that the show aims to celebrate the diversity and creativity of female artists, as well as to inspire future generations of divas.

‘We want to show that divas are not just glamorous and fabulous, but also powerful and influential. They have used their voices and platforms to challenge norms and stereotypes, to express themselves authentically, and to advocate for social change. They are role models for millions of people around the world,’ she said.

‘DIVA’ opens on June 23 and runs until January 2024. Tickets are available online at www.vam.ac.uk/diva.

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