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Best of British design: Björk’s swan dress and Sam Smith's controverial latex suit to go on show

Sam Smith in his HARRI designed inflatable latex suit at this year's BRIT Awards
Sam Smith in his HARRI designed inflatable latex suit at this year's BRIT Awards Copyright Invision/AP
Copyright Invision/AP
By Saskia O'Donoghue
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REBEL: 30 Years of London Fashion will celebrate over 300 young designers at an upcoming show at the capital's Design Museum.


In 2001, Björk’s decision to wear a dress resembling a swan to the Oscars drew her endless criticism, with the Icelandic singer finding herself on a majority of ‘worst dressed’ lists after the events.

22 years later and the Marjan Pejoski-designed piece is truly an icon of red carpet fashion - and it’s going on display for the first time ever in the UK, as part of a huge exhibition celebrating young London-based designers.

Michael Caulfield/AP2001
Björk in her iconic swan dress at the 2001 OscarsMichael Caulfield/AP2001

The show - Rebel: 30 Years of London Fashion - will open in September at the Design Museum in the capital city and will feature over 100 outfits from the best of British designers.

Starring alongside the swan dress are a Union Jack jacket designed by Russell Sage worn by Kate Moss, a replica of Sam Smith’s controversial Harri-designed inflatable latex suit worn to this year’s Brit Awards as well as looks from top London-founded brands including Erdem and Christopher Kane.

AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali
Queen of style - Kate Moss attends the Platinum Jubilee Pageant in 2022AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali

The exhibition’s opening will coincide with London Fashion Week and takes a look back on the last three decades of the British Fashion Council’s Newgen programme, which has long supported new talent.

A look from Christopher Kane's Spring / Summer 2007 collectionCATWALKING.COM

The programme’s alumni include some of the most recognisable names in all of British fashion, including Christopher Kane, Jonathan Anderson (best known for his line JW Anderson) and the late, great Alexander McQueen, whose iconic brand is sponsoring the Rebel exhibition.

The Design Museum’s director and chief executive, Tim Marlow, explained, “Visitors are going to be stunned by many of the instantly recognisable fashion items on show, but we hope they’ll also be captivated by the breadth, depth, diversity and world-class talent that has emerged from the London fashion scene in the past three decades”.

Also on display are a ruffled blue Molly Goddard dress worn by Rihanna in 2017 - the singer has been a long-time champion of the British designer, who was also the brain behind Villanelle’s iconic pink dress in cult TV show Killing Eve - and pieces designed by recent menswear graduate Steven Stokey Daley whose collection was worn by mega-star Harry Styles in his ‘Golden’ music video. 

The show is to be split into sections designed to explore the journey of an upcoming designer as they move up in the industry and will include ‘art school’, ‘backstage’ and ‘runway’ areas.

Chris Yates / Alamy Stock Photo
A model walks the runway for Charles Jeffrey Loverboy's Spring / Summer 2018 collectionChris Yates / Alamy Stock Photo

While the three other established fashion capitals - Milan with its glamour, Paris with its chic designs and sleek looks coming out of New York - London has a certain quirky edge unique to it.

“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”,

Sarah Mower, BFC Ambassador for Emerging Talent and guest-curator of REBEL explains, adding, “This landmark exhibition will take visitors on a remarkable journey through London’s creative landscape, and to all the locations where all this fashion magic happens. The city’s art schools, clubs and catwalks will be brought to life like never before”.

Sølve Sundsbø/Art + Commerce
A stand out from Erdem's Autumn / Winter 2008 collectionSølve Sundsbø/Art + Commerce

REBEL: 30 Years of London Fashion sponsored by Alexander McQueen opens at the Design Museum in London on 16 September 2023.

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