Archive | Past Exhibitions

Out of the Blue: Fifty Years of Designers Guild

14 February 2020 – 21 February 2021

Out of the Blue celebrates the work of influential design company Designers Guild. Founded by Tricia Guild OBE, Designers Guild started life in 1970 as a small section of a single shop in Chelsea’s Kings Road. The brand has since evolved and grown into a global enterprise, whose products have changed the way we view colour, pattern and texture in our homes.

Out of the Blue unravels Tricia Guild’s unique and creative approach, focussing in on her inspiration, her intuitive design methodology and the techniques, processes and materials used. Frustrated with the lack of truly contemporary fabrics and wallpapers for interiors, Tricia’s vision was to create a lifestyle. Tricia showed people how to put the different elements of a room together; how colour, pattern, texture and form can combine to create a harmonious space.

Offering unique access to Designers Guild’s archive, with never before displayed original designs and art work, Out of the Blue will showcase the story of Designers Guild, in settings that capture the changing tastes in interiors over the past five decades.

Zandra Rhodes: 50 Years of Fabulous

27 September 2019 – 26 January 2020

The acclaimed British designer Dame Zandra Rhodes DBE founded her eponymous fashion house in 1969 with a small collection. Her prints were Pop Art-infused commentaries on the world of Sixties Britain; the designer felt that there was inherent structure within the pattern that could work with and enhance the shape and construction of a dress. With this concept as a starting point and with her distinctive approach to cut and form, the house of Zandra Rhodes soon became one of the most recognisable labels in London.

In celebration of fifty years of the Zandra Rhodes’ label, the Fashion and Textile Museum presents Zandra Rhodes: 50 Years of Fabulous. This retrospective will highlight more than 50 key looks, as well as 30 original textiles. This comprehensive exhibition will explore five decades of the distinguished career of a British design legend.

Exhibition on Tour

Upcoming venue:
Aberdeen Art Gallery, Aberdeen, UK | from November 2021

Weavers of the Clouds: Textile Arts of Peru

21 June – 8 September 2019

For decades, designers worldwide have been influenced by the traditional textiles of Peru. Weavers of the Clouds explores the processes and practices of both historic and contemporary Peruvian costume via garments, textiles, photographs, tools, illustrations and paintings, dating from pre-Hispanic to present day.

Works presented include pieces by contemporary Peruvian fashion designers Meche Correa and Chiara Macchievello, photographs by Sebastian Castaneda Vita, Marta Tucci and Toni Frissell, Peruvian-inspired designs from Vivienne Westwood and Naeem Khan and a broad selection of both traditional and contemporary Peruvian art, produced in a multitude of fascinating mediums.

With many artists of all forms now looking to Peru for inspiration, this is a very exciting time to examine the history and future of Peruvian arts.

Weavers of the Clouds: Textile Arts of Peru is supported by Kuna and Peruvian Connection.

Weavers of the Clouds: Textile Arts of Peru is accompanied by the display A Thread: Contemporary Art of Peru, showcasing the work of 17 Peruvian artists.

Curated by Claudia Trosso and supported by Martin Morales, the display will highlight the varied work of contemporary artists, working with traditional weaving and embroidery techniques, or interpreting the aesthetic of traditional Peruvian textiles and costume using modern mediums. A Thread: Contemporary Art of Peru will feature sculpture, painting, photography, mixed media and tapestry, revealing the versatility of contemporary art practice inspired by ancient textiles of the Pre-Columbian period.

Elizabeth Suter: Sharp Lines and Swift Sketches

 8 February – 2 June 2019

Elizabeth Suter (1926–2012) was a well-known illustrator and fashion journalist who for years covered the Paris collections for British magazines and newspapers. From 1953 – 1977 she also inspired designers and illustrators as a teacher and eventual Head of Fashion at St. Martin’s School of Art.

Suter developed a style that was fast and confident, based on a thorough understanding of the human body. Drawn largely from memory (as sketching was prohibited in fashion shows), her illustrations elegantly captured the movement of the catwalk during the 1960s. The selection of Suter’s work shown in this display, including coverage of Dior and Yves Saint Laurent catwalk shows, highlights her distinctive approach.

Suter’s role as mentor to a generation of fashion designers and illustrators highlights the impact of art schools on the design movement. Suter’s St. Martin’s (then based in Soho) proved to be a crucible for exchanging ideas as well as a place in which to have a thoroughly good time. Tom McPhillips’s 1972 film, A Lay in the Dife (also on display), illustrates perfectly the St. Martin’s at which Suter taught in until her retirement in 1977.

Will You Be My Valentine? Works by Natalie Gibson

8 February – 2 June 2019

Print designer Natalie Gibson MBE is noted for her love of colour; by her own admission she is a ‘magpie’ with an affinity for pattern and prints.  From her time at the Royal College, where she studied textiles, through her work for Sir Terence Conran’s Habitat in the early 60s to her current projects in China and India, Gibson’s work has been defined by optimism and an irrepressible joie de vivre.

From 1964, Gibson has taught at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design, where she developed the fashion print programme in 1980.  Hundreds of students have trained under Gibson’s time as course leader; her influence and network in the world of fashion cannot be underestimated.  Some of the greatest names in British fashion have studied with her, designers such as John Galliano, Sarah Burton, Stella McCartney, Stephen Jones and Craig Green amongst many others.

Her seminal work for Conran captured the mood of the times as well as her own distinct view of the world.  Saturated colours of pink, orange, purple and blue – often in analogous or contrasting combinations – defined a series of pop-inspired motifs that characterised her work: hearts, flowers, dots.  The graphic clarity of Gibson’s work has remained a constant; a printer’s palette and a painter’s eye coming together to create a unique, and uplifting, body of work.

Norman Hartnell – A Tribute

27 September 2019 – 26 January 2020

The first British ‘Fashion Knight’, Sir Norman Hartnell, was responsible for creating an innovative London fashion scene during the 1920s and 1930s.

Part of Hartnell’s international success as a Society and Royal Dressmaker by Appointment lay in his unique embroideries and in his commitment to reinventing the silhouette of fashion. During his career he dressed three Queens of the United Kingdom; his 1953 Coronation Dress for Queen Elizabeth II is an icon of mid-century dress design.

Decorated by the French Government in 1938, Hartnell designed collections for clients including for film and stage until his death in 1979. His many talents included war-time utility clothing, ready-to-wear, scent, millinery, hosiery, knitwear, shoes, scarves and jewellery.

This display of selected clothes, accessories and memorabilia demonstrates Hartnell’s innovation and lasting effect on British design and craftsmanship.

‘Whenever I think of beautiful clothes, I think of those designed by Norman Hartnell and worn by Queen Elizabeth during the State Visit to France in 1938.’ – Christian Dior

Swinging London: A Lifestyle Revolution | Terence Conran – Mary Quant

 8 February – 2 June 2019

Swinging London: A Lifestyle Revolution will present the fashion, design and art of the Chelsea Set; a group of radical young architects, designers, photographers and artists who were redefining the concept of youth and challenging the established order in 1950s London. At the forefront of this group of young revolutionaries were Mary Quant and Terence Conran.

Swinging London: A Lifestyle Revolution will span the period from 1952 – 1977 and will present fashion, textiles, furniture, lighting, homewares, ceramics and ephemera in an exhibition that explores not only the style but the socioeconomic importance of this transformative period of time. Key pieces include rare and early examples of designs by Conran and Quant, plus the avant-garde artists, designers and intellectuals who worked alongside them, such as designers Bernard and Laura Ashley, sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi and artist and photographer Nigel Henderson.

Exhibition on Tour
This exhibition is currently available for hire, please get in touch to find out more.

Previous venue:
Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh, UK | 15 July 2020 – 9 January 2021

Cecil Beaton: Thirty from the 30s | Fashion, Film and Fantasy

2 October 2018 – 20 January 2019

Celebrated as one of Britain’s most influential portrait photographers, Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) was among the greatest visual chroniclers of the Twentieth Century. This distinguished photographer spent many years as a major contributor to Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Life, The Sketch and Tatler, photographing the most notable names in fashion, film, the arts and society.

Although Beaton’s career spanned some 50 years and embraced painting, interior design, costume and more, some of his best-known works are his fashion photographs of the 1930s. Cecil Beaton: Thirty from the 30s will present some of Beaton’s most influential and recognisable portraits, featuring subjects including Salvador Dali, Elsa Schiaparelli, Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn. Another key piece will be a rare 1935 colour photograph of model Mary Taylor and a selection of images created at Beaton’s notorious and fantastical house parties, held at his glamorous home at Ashcombe.

This display coincides with the 50th anniversary of Cecil Beaton’s ground-breaking retrospective, organised by Sir Roy Strong, at the National Portrait Gallery in 1968.

Cecil Beaton: Thirty from the 30s is curated by Terence Pepper in association with the Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s.

Night and Day: 1930s Fashion and Photographs

12 October 2018 – 20 January 2019

Following the success of 2017’s 1920s Jazz Age: Fashion and Photographs, we are thoroughly excited to announce our Winter 2018 exhibition: Night and Day: 1930s Fashion and Photographs!

As a decade of design, the Thirties saw off the excess of the Jazz Age and ushered in the utilitarianism of World War II. As the flapper grew up, so too did her fashions. The new silhouettes of the 1930s played with the hard edged chic seen in the Art Deco and Moderne styles, the unexpected as seen in the surrealists and the sensuality of silver screen sirens.

The exhibition will explore the day and evening styles of the decade, complemented by photographs of the stars who championed them. With fashion as the lens, Night and Day: 1930s Fashion and Photographs will traverse the great period of social change that was the 1930s.

Exhibition on Tour
This exhibition is currently available for hire, please get in touch to find out more.

Previous venue:
American Museum and Gardens, Bath, UK | 14 March – 20 December 2020

The Secret Life of Scissors

9 February – 6 May 2018

This display explores the complex multiple lives of scissors; everyday objects, universal tools but also ambiguous ‘things’, surrounded by superstition, myth and symbolism. From antiquity to modern times, scissors have remained irreplaceable and indispensable tools that also reveal an intimate human bond; their worn surfaces bearing witness to lives lived. The Secret Life of Scissors explores these different narratives in a sequence of themes: life and death, fairy tales, crime, punk and more, constantly mirroring the double-edged nature of this familiar yet mysterious object.

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