Download Curator Robin Muir’s Exclusive Commentary on Cecil Beaton Bright Young Things Exhibition

Cecil Beaton Bright Young Things

Robin Muir provides exclusive commentary for the Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design for the Cecil Beaton Bright Young Things exhibition. 


Cecil Beaton Bright Young Things Exhibition


The Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design is delighted to share with you, curator Robin Muir’s exclusive commentary on the Cecil Beaton Bright Young Things exhibition.  The highly anticipated exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery was forced to close just five days after opening due to the coronavirus pandemic. 


Cecil Beaton Bright Young Things


Get an exclusive insight with Exhibition curator Robin Muir


Robin Muir is a renowned photographic historian, curator, and Contributing Editor to British Vogue. He has served under four Vogue editors since 1985 and has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Vogue archives and images.


In 2016 Robin curated the sell-out exhibition Vogue 100: A Century of Style as well as penning the book of the same title. Robin has written many books delving into Vogue’s archives from Unseen Vogue, The Secret History of Vogue and People in Vogue, and his Tim Walker; StoryTeller is the definitive work. Now, for the first time, he writes exclusive commentary for the Condé Nast College of Art & Design on his most recent exhibition and book, Cecil Beaton Bright Young Things.


About the exhibition


Cecil Beaton’s own life and relationship with the ‘Bright Young Things’ is woven into the exhibition, not least in self- portraits and those by his contemporaries. Socially avaricious, he was a much-photographed figure, a celebrity in his own right. Beaton’s transformation from middle-class suburban schoolboy to glittering society figure and the unrivalled star of Vogue revealed a social mobility unthinkable before the Great War. He used his artistic skills, his ambition, and his larger-than-life personality to become part of a world that he would not surely have joined as a right. Throughout the twenties and thirties his photographs place his friends and heroes under perceptive, colourful and sympathetic scrutiny. 


The exhibition brings together loans from national and international collections and in particular an extensive loan from the Cecil Beaton Studio Archive. Highlights include vintage prints of Beaton’s earliest subjects, his glamorous sisters Nancy and Baba; the Vogue portrait of his friend George Rylands as ‘The Duchess of Malfi’, published when he was a student, and which set him on the road to fame. There are glimpses from high-spirited revels at country house weekends, including a rare vintage print of the leading lights dressed as eighteenth-century shepherds and shepherdesses on the bridge at Wilsford Manor, regarded now as the quintessential depiction of the Bright Young Things. In town, parties, charity balls, and pageants were enlivened by an almost maniacal zeal for the theatrical and the extravagant in costume and attitude.


Download your free copy from the Condé Nast College


Download your free copy now to enjoy some of Robin’s favourite images from the exhibition alongside his insightful commentary. 


Cecil Beaton Bright Young Things the book is available from selected book retailers.  


Booklet includes a foreword by Zoe Souter, Edited by Hannah Shakir