Sep 15, 2023
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Design Museum's Rebel exhibit opens, puts focus on London's punk attitude and creativity

Sep 15, 2023

As London geared up for Fashion Week on Thursday, the season’s big exhibition — Rebel: 30 Years of London Fashion — opened at the Design Museum.

Alexander McQueen - Photo: Sandra Halliday

With British Fashion Council (BFC) chief Caroline Rush saying the aim is also to take it on tour, she kicked off a show that’s uniquely London and that focuses on the starting points and creativity of the BFC’s crop of NewGen designers over the past three decades.

Sponsored by Alexander McQueen (with Rush citing the House’s overall generosity in its sponsorship of, and engagement with, young designers), Lee McQueen’s own experience is a big part of the show. And for fans of fashion history, it features recreations of his first-but-quickly-mislaid Taxi Driver collection.

Photo: Sandra Halliday

Guest-curated by the BFC’s emerging talent guru Sarah Mower (who was at the opening but said nothing due to too many speaking gigs in recent days that made her lose her voice), it was also co-curated by the Design Museum’s Rebecca Lewin.

And while the infamous Bjork swan dress designed by Marjan Pejoski was the focus on much of the pre-publicity, now the event has opened, it’s clearly just one of many wild creations by the hundreds of talents that have passed through the NewGen programme.

Molly Goddard - Photo: Sandra Halliday

There’s work on show from Christopher Kane’s debut catwalk collection, from Molly Goddard, JW Anderson, Craig Green, Wales Bonner, Russell Sage, SS Daley and many more. A sublime 2008 dress from Erdem for instance is there, with his demi-couture approach coming through clearly even in those early days. It’s accompanied by an Erdem quote that sums up many of the designers: “We might be in Hackney but let’s pretend we’re in Paris.”

But the exhibition is more than just a selection of dresses. Also included is the visual prep work that went into many of the creations, as well as themed sections, from a London club to a full-on runway. 

Erdem - Photo: Sandra Halliday

And to further emphasise that this is a far from the traditional chronological fashion exhibition, The Design Museum has also teamed up with Snapchat for AR lenses in which visitors can transform themselves into weird and whacky models from various designer's showcases, with a focus on the innovative prints they’re known for. The designers included here are Charles Jeffery Loverboy, Chet Lo, Gareth Pugh, Henry Holland, Liam Hodges, Louise Gray, Marques’Almeida, Matthew Williamson, and Richard Quinn.

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