Two of our fashion students have joined leading designers in an exciting and inspiring exhibition which sees some of today’s leading female fashion designers explore the impact the First World War had on the changing role of women and fashion.
Sheffield Institute of Arts students Chay Linch and Charlie McDonald are exhibiting alongside Vivienne Westwood, Roksanda, Holly Fulton, Emilia Wickstead, J JS Lee and Sadie Williams as part of Fashion & Freedom. The exhibition is co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary and Manchester Art Gallery, with support from the British Fashion Council
Chay and Charlie’s pieces, for which they were give £500 each to spend on designing, will feature in a collection of work created by students from UK’s most prestigious fashion colleges on the theme of “Restriction & Release”.
Restriction & Release plays on the theme of women’s fashion and roles pre and post First World War. Students have examined the two physical extremes women faced within fashion, from the pre-war tight fitted corsets (Restriction) to the soft free-flowing silhouette post war (Release). Restriction /Release also explores the social and political barriers women endured at this time, including fighting for the right to vote.
In 1914, British society was changed significantly when men left home to fight on the front line of the First World War, enabling over a million women to work for the very first time. Many took on jobs that were once occupied by men, including ambulance drivers and bus conductors, as well as in factories. New responsibilities meant new freedoms and a new aesthetic. As hemlines rose, the female silhouettes that Britons were once so familiar with were starting to change forever. It is these profound changes to women’s dress during the First World War that have inspired the specially commissioned designs that make up Fashion & Freedom.
The gallery’s Assistant Curator, Jason White explains that “over the last two years, Barnsley has seen some very high quality exhibitions and works of public art that have told thought-provoking stories of the soldier’s that fought in the First World War and family’s affected by it. They have been of such a high standard, all quietly thought-provoking, insightful and beautifully put together. The Civic are delighted to bring to Barnsley an exhibition which reveals another inspiring story – an exploration of a pivotal moment in Women’s history, the changes of the War and its impact one hundred on through fashion and society.”
Jason goes on to explain, “I think it is important that in a time when women still have expectations of what to wear and how to look imposed on them by a white, western patriarchy, that we tell inspiring stories of women who took control, both domestically and culturally.”
Fashion & Freedom is now open at The Civic, Barnsley and will close on 8 April 2017.
Admission is free.