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The Victoria & Albert Museum is now paying homage to some of the greatest performers in history, from Marilyn Monroe to Lady Gaga. DIVA is the first exhibition of its kind.

Split into three acts spread over two floors with more than 250 items on show, it celebrates the extraordinary power and creativity of iconic music and movie stars who have made their voices heard from the 19th century to today.

Diva fashion show

Famous outfits worn by Rihanna is on display for the first time, 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. On loan to the exhibition from the signer herself, the objects track Rihanna’s style evolution as an artist and celebrate her ability to transform her own personal image, shaping style and popular culture along the way.

Other rare looks include a stage ensemble worn by Maria Callas as Norma in the Covent Garden Opera Company production of ‘Norma’ (1952); Marilyn Monroe’s black dress from Some Like It Hot (1959) and many more. The film in 1960 won an Oscar for costume design and earned the actress a Golden Globe.

Sequins and feathers

Garments seen on Judy Garland, Vivien Leigh, Barbra Streisand, Tina Turner, Whitney Houston, Billie Eilish and other legendary artists also feature in the exhibition. Visitors are given a headset to wear which automatically plays a soundtrack or song associated with the era or artist they’re looking at. Photographs of ‘iconic’ diva moments (like that time Lady Gaga wore a slime dress) are also presented at V&A.

Gender-bending and male divas are duly celebrated, notably via Sir Elton John’s Louis XIV inspired look, with powdered wig and train, worn by the singer-songwriter for his 50th birthday celebration in 1997.

DIVA runs until 7 April 2024. Tickets cost £20 and can be purchased here.


Image credits: © Victoria and Albert Museum