REBEL is a collaboration between the Design Museum and the British Fashion Council (BFC) and will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the BFC’s NewGen programme that supports the best emerging fashion design talent and aims to build global, high-end brands of the future.
At the heart of the exhibition is the story of hundreds of “fearless young designers,” explains the Design Museum in the press release, with their innovative fashion looks being shown alongside films, drawings, memorabilia and never-before-seen archive material from some of the most well-known contemporary UK-based designers.
For example, in the first room you can find a voluminous flower-printed look by Richard Quinn swept past late Queen Elizabeth II as she sat in front row of his debut NewGen show in February 2018. Afterwards she presented the young designer with the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design.
Björk’s swan dress
A major highlight of the show is Marjan Pejoski’s ‘swan’ dress, worn to the Oscars in 2001 by Icelandic singer Björk. The eye-catching item generated immediate shock, intrigue and global headlines, but has since gone on to become one of the most wellknown red-carpet looks in history.
The dress was first unveiled at Pejoski’s NEWGEN runway show in London 22 years ago where it was spotted by the singer, who also wore it on the cover for her fourth studio album Vespertine. The now-iconic outfit has only ever been on public display twice before — both times in New York — meaning that its display in Rebel marks the very first time it has been seen in Britain.
Sam Smith's inflatable latex suit
Another high-profile item is a unique replica of Sam Smith’s eye-catching red-carpet suit. The look was created by Harri (graduate of London College of Fashion, full name is Harikrishnan Keezhathil Surendran Pillai) for the singer in just five days ahead of the 2023 Brit Awards ceremony, and this replica has been made especially for the exhibition.
Harry Styles’ trousers
Harry Styles’ outfit from the music video for ‘Golden’ is another highlight of Rebel. Visitors of the exhibition can see the original floral Oxford Bags trousers tailored from upcycled curtain, this is a creation of Steven Stokey Daley who studied menswear in London at the University of Westminster.
Rihanna’s insta dress
To the right of Harry Styles’ garment is a sugary blue ruffle dress by Molly Goddard that went viral on Instagram when worn by Rihanna. You can still see the Barbadian singer’s original posts if you scroll down her profile to 2017.
When Jodie Comer wore Goddard’s diaphanous pink tulle gown in Killing Eve, Villanelle’s dress became as much of a talking point as the plot. The picture of the most the most fascinating villain on TV is also on display.
The most trailblazing fashion designs
REBEL: 30 Years of London Fashion is organised into sections that reflect many of the spaces which have been the creative catalyst for London’s young designers over the past three decades. These include ‘Art School’, which will show objects highlighting how London’s art education establishments have uniquely incubated individuality, and ‘Backstage Pass’ where augmented reality lenses developed exclusively for the exhibition are deployed on a bank of AR vanity mirrors, letting visitors try on hair and makeup looks that are featured in the shows of London Fashion Week designers.
In ‘Runway’, visitors will be able join the front row of an exclusive show to see six ground-breaking presentations that had a major impact on the fashion world. Collections by Christopher Kane, Craig Green, JW Anderson, Meadham Kirchhoff, Wales Bonner and Sinéad O’Dwyer fill the catwalk.
The most trailblazing fashion designs
Tim Marlow, director and chief executive at the Design Museum, said at the press preview: “This is an exhibition that has some superstar fashion names in it, but every single look on display was made when the designers were emerging. They are all in their early 20s and it’s the moment their talent is recognised and the moment they start to recognise their own talent.
One of those young and most recognisable designers on show is Lee Alexander McQueen, who was one of the first cohorts of BFC’s NewGen initiative. Two dress samples recreated from McQueen’s first collection named after famous 1976 Martin Scorsese ‘Taxi Driver” can be found at Design Museum.
Rebel: 30 Years of London Fashion at London’s Design Museum, sponsored by Alexander McQueen, runs from until 11 February 2024. Tickets start from £16 and more information can be found here.
Image credits: © Andy Stagg