Bjork’s controversial swan dress to go on display in new exhibition

Bjork’s controversial swan dress to go on display in new exhibition

The swan dress worn by Icelandic singer Bjork to the 2001 Oscars will be part of a new exhibition celebrating rebellious fashion.

The outfit – by Macedonian designer Marjan Pejoski – was controversial at the time, as it was a huge departure from the black tie gowns normally seen on the red carpet.

It’s gone on to take a prominent place in fashion and pop culture history, and this will be the first time it’s been seen in the UK, since it was created over 20 years ago.

The swan dress will join ensembles worn by Harry Styles, Rihanna and Sam Smith at a new exhibition at the Design Museum called Rebel: 30 Years of London Fashion.

The exhibition will feature nearly 100 looks from designers who have taken part in the NewGen initiative – a scheme run by the British Fashion Council (BFC) that supports emerging fashion talent.

It will include trousers made from deadstock materials designed by Steven Stokey Daley and worn by Harry Styles for his 2020 music video Golden, as well as a replica of the inflatable latex jumpsuit worn by Sam Smith at the 2023 Brit Awards, designed by Harri.

Other looks include the voluminous blue ruffled dress by Molly Goddard – worn by Rihanna in 2017 in an Instagram post which garnered 1.7 million likes – and a Nasir Mazhar headpiece modelled by Lady Gaga.

Covering the last 30 years of fashion, the exhibition isn’t organised chronologically – instead, each room will cover themes, including colour (featuring work from Ashish, Richard Quinn and Mary Katrantzou), art school (Molly Goddard and S. S. Daley) and the club scene (with pieces from Halpern and Gareth Pugh).

One room will be entirely dedicated to trailblazing designer Alexander McQueen, who was one of the first recipients of NewGen support.

“It is impossible to underestimate the influence London has on Britain’s fashion talent, a city that produces wave after wave of young designers that value originality, wearing what you believe in, and tackling social issues to make a better world,” said Sarah Mower, BFC ambassador for emerging talent and guest curator of Rebel.

The exhibition shows pieces from when each designer was taking part in the NewGen scheme – and some of them are now household names, such as Erdem and Northern Irish designer JW Anderson.

“Only showing looks and accessories and supporting materials that were produced while the designer was receiving NewGen support has meant that we have the most extraordinary insight into early careers of designers that are incredibly familiar today,” said Rebecca Lewin, Design Museum curator.

The exhibition will open in September, to coincide with the new season of London Fashion Week and to celebrate 30 years of the NewGen programme, which has supported more than 300 designers over the years.

Rebel: 30 Years of London Fashion sponsored by Alexander McQueen will open at the Design Museum in London on September 16 and will run until February 11, 2024.

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