Sylvia Plath’s skirt at Poets in Vogue

I just wanted to share a few photos with you from an exhibition I went to in London recently. Poets in Vogue is an exhibition of the clothing and artefacts of a range of 20th century women poets. It has really stayed with me and made me think about how we represent ourselves in public as women, how that relates to the work we do, and how the world judges us for that. I suspect an exhibition of the clothing of male poets would be very different!

Poets in Vogue exhibition - Anne Sexton red reading dress
A recreation of Anne Sexton’s “readings dress”. She was cremated in the original.

It’s quite a small exhibition, but it’s very affecting in its detail of the lives of the writers included. You can feel their presence just as much as their absence.

Edith Sitwell’s signature look

Probably the highest profile piece is Sylvia Plath’s skirt – quite plain and prim, almost like a piece of school uniform.

sylvia plath skirt - poets in vogue exhibition
Sylvia Plath’s skirt, worn in 1956 on a trip to Paris

I was also very struck by this kaftan belonging to Audre Lorde, standing tall and proud and dignified as she did in life.

Audre Lorde’s kaftan, deliberately designed to be asymetrical after her mastectomy

About the Poets in Vogue exhibition

Poets in Vogue is a free exhibition at the National Poetry Library on the Southbank in London. Find it by going to the Royal Festival Hall and following the signs to Level 5. It’s on show now until 10 September 2023.

Read more about days out in London here