Thursday 26 April / 2pm-3pm
Join Head of Exhibitions Dennis Nothdruft in conversation with artists and designers John Dove & Molly White. The talk will also feature a film screening of a documentary exploring the couple’s careers and pioneering designs.
Years before graphic t-shirts took off as a commercially successful fashion item, John Dove & Molly White could be found experimenting with inks and silkscreens in their Paddington studio. The first of their cult designs, ‘Painless Tattoos’, were printed on t-shirts, body stockings and underwear in the late 1960s and distributed worldwide. From the King’s Road to Berlin, via Bloomingdale’s ‘Painless Tattoo Parlour’, John and Molly were the talk of the town.
Upon establishing their label Wonder Workshop in 1971, the ‘Wild Thing’ t-shirt, a tribute to Jimi Hendrix and The Troggs, became another global success and the first t-shirt in fashion history to feature rhinestone embellishment. The label garnered further success throughout the 1970s and 80s with prints like ‘Lips’, ‘Exploding Mickey’ and ‘Breasts’.
John & Molly will discuss the development of the t-shirt as an art form and the significance it has played in their careers over the last five decades. Their relationship is just as much a part of their design process, as the collaborative aspect of screen-printing is to their relationship. While their designs have long been associated with subcultures and street style, John & Molly are fundamentally an independent team who have consistently sought new ways of making bold statements.
A selection of t-shirts, including ‘Wild Thing’ and ‘Exploding Mickey’, by John & Molly are on display in the exhibition T-SHIRT: CULT – CULTURE – SUBVERSION and exclusive designs are available to buy in the Fashion and Textile Museum Shop.
John Dove & Molly White started their Wonder Workshop label in 1971. The label produced screen-printed shirts, underwear, jackets, and jeans, but “the emphasis was always on T-shirts.” By 1973, the Workshop was printing up to 100 t-shirts a day. Their designs have always had a wide appeal with rock stars such as Lou Reed, Mick Jagger and Marc Bolan being photographed in their designs, as well as various street style tribes. They have been included in exhibitions at the V&A, Whitechapel Gallery, ICA, The Lightbox and ‘POP! Design • Culture • Fashion’ at the Fashion and Textile Museum in 2012. The couple continue to design and have maintained their independence from fashion trends and the market.
Free* with exhibition ticket
The event starts at 2pm and will be taking place in the Fashion Studio. Ticket includes admission to the exhibition and guests are welcome to view this before or after the talk.
Exhibition tickets: £9.90 adults* / £8.80 concessions* / £7 students
*Includes 10% gift aid
Image: Exploding Mickey t-shirts. BOY BLACKMAIL, 1975. Photo: Derek Hutchins. Dove/White. Courtesy of Paul Stolper Gallery.Frequently Asked Questions