A bitterly cold trek along the side of the River Thames to the Design Museum proved rewarding in the exhibition Women Power Dressing.
The exhibition starts with a look at the powerful women throughout the centuries (some would say the usual suspects of dominance): Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria, our present Queen, Jackie Kennedy, Margaret Thatcher, Hilary Clinton and Michelle Obama to name a few. Each had (or have) their instantly recognisable style and were style influencers of their time.
Next we wander through a potted history of fashion throughout the 20th century highlighting the evolution, or should be that be liberation, of womenswear.
This exhibition charts the way power is conveyed in dress. From the earliest rosettes and sashes demanding “votes for women” to the unstructured corset-less dresses of the flappers, to the bathing suits and the empowerment of the female form as she revealed more on the beach throughout the century (sadly I didn’t capture the swimwear on camera). We see the mini dress and of course the trouser suit – both revolutions for women in their time.
Indeed the exhibition bills itself as a “celebration of exceptional women”. The curator invited women in a range of professions who were deemed leaders in their field (politics, business, fashion) to show how they use clothes and their personal style, to communicate with the world.
These loaned outfits, in my mind, show the evolution of the “power” dressing and how women are engaging with the contemporary, to show their individuality, through dress. Beside each outfit the women say in their own words their approach to fashion, which I found fascinating.
A small exhibition, it is nonetheless a thoughtful exhibition, documenting not only the revolution in fashion which took place last century, but the revolutionary change in attitude which has taken place this.