REBEL: 30 Years of London fashion – A Celebration of the City’s Creative Spirit
London is known for its vibrant and diverse fashion scene, where young designers have always pushed the boundaries of style and expression. From punk to grunge, from streetwear to couture, from club culture to activism, the London fashion scene has been a source of inspiration and innovation for the world.
To mark the 30th anniversary of the British Fashion Council’s NEWGEN programme, which supports the best emerging fashion talent in the UK, the Design Museum has launched a landmark exhibition that showcases the work of more than 300 young designers who have shaped the fashion landscape in the past three decades.
The exhibition, titled REBEL: 30 years of London fashion, is guest-curated by BFC Ambassador for Emerging Talent Sarah Mower MBE and co-curated by Design Museum Senior Curator Rebecca Lewin. It features nearly 100 fashion looks from ground-breaking debuts and early collections, many of which have entered pop-culture history and launched global design careers. The design of the space takes us on a journey, in which room by room, we explore four distinct themes. Let’s take a look at what you’ll find on your visit.
In this section, you’ll encounter fashion that defies convention and embraces individuality. Marvel the iconic looks like the infamous swan dress worn by Björk at the 2001 Oscars, a breathtaking creation by Marjan Pejoski. You’ll also find Harry Styles’ bold ensemble by Steven Stokey Daley, featured in his ‘Golden’ music video, and Sam Smith’s eye-catching inflatable latex suit by HARRI, showcased at this year’s BRIT Awards. Furthermore, you’ll explore the thought-provoking pieces of designers who’ve used fashion as a powerful platform for social and political commentary, including Katharine Hamnett’s slogan tees, Vivienne Westwood’s punk-inspired attire, Christopher Raeburn’s sustainable fashion, and Bethany Williams’ innovative designs.
Step into the world where London’s nightlife and fashion intersect. Be captivated by the avant-garde costumes of Leigh Bowery, which were as audacious as the clubs he frequented. Explore Alexander McQueen’s ground-breaking bumster trousers, Gareth Pugh’s futuristic designs that seem plucked from a sci-fi film, and Nasir Mazhar’s cutting-edge urban sportswear that redefines street fashion. Dive into the role of magazines like i-D, Dazed, and The Face, which played a pivotal role in documenting and promoting London’s club culture.
This section is a testament to the craftsmanship and innovation at the heart of London fashion. Admire the intricately embellished dresses by Simone Rocha, where every detail tells a story. Lose yourself in the whimsical and voluminous tulle creations by Molly Goddard, which redefine femininity. Witness the sculptural garments by Craig Green, where fashion becomes art. Gaze in awe at Sinéad O’Dwyer’s body-cast pieces, challenging traditional notions of beauty and form. Here, you’ll also discover the importance of sustainability and ethical practices in London fashion, with designers championing upcycling, recycling, and the use of organic materials.
The rich tapestry of London’s fashion community, where diversity and inclusivity is explored and celebrated continuously throughout. Explore the Afro-Caribbean heritage inspiring Grace Wales Bonner’s innovative designs. Ashish’s sequined rainbow flag stands as a symbol of pride, while you can Immerse yourself in Erdem’s enchanting floral prints that pay homage to English gardens. Challenge gender norms with JW Anderson’s gender-fluid designs that redefine fashion boundaries. As you navigate this section, you’ll also recognise the mentors, educators, stylists, photographers, models, and influencers who have played pivotal roles in nurturing and promoting London’s fashion talent.
REBEL: 30 Years of London Fashion is a treasure trove of designs that have shaped the fashion landscape. Each piece is a chapter in the story of London’s fashion evolution, from rebellion and club culture to craftsmanship and community. Don’t miss this opportunity to get up close and personal with these iconic creations.
Open at the Design Museum from September 16, 2023, to February 11, 2024. Secure your tickets online at designmuseum.org and embark on a journey through three decades of London’s fashion history, one breath-taking design at a time.