Make do and create

Make do and create

World War One fashion is revived for the present day at Manchester Art Gallery’s new exhibition

As part of an immersive programme of art events for 14-18 NOW - a cultural programme to mark the centenary of the First World War - Fashion & Freedom at Manchester Art Gallery will explore the changing role of women during WWI. Fashion designers including Vivienne Westwood, Sadie Williams and Roksanda Ilincic have created contemporary designs inspired by different aspects on the war. The collection will include a bespoke Vivienne Westwood jumpsuit, inspired by women wearing trousers for the first time, alongside a luminous yellow dress by London-based designer Roksanda sparked from the yellow skin caused by TNT poisoning. 

More than one million women went to work for the first time during the First World War, many stationed at munitions factories, driving ambulances or employed to man underground stations. These jobs required women to ditch the restrictive corsets and cumbersome skirts in favour of more appropriate fluid silhouettes and shorter more maneuverable hemlines.

A series of specially commissioned short films that complement each of the garments will also be on view at the gallery, as well as on digital screens across Manchester, and online. Fashion photographer Nick Knight will present film from his award winning SHOWstudio while screenwriter Luke Snellin will exhibit a film that envisages a young woman dressed in a bus conductor’s uniform designed by Private White V.C as she goes to her first day of work.

Admission to Fashion & Freedom is free and will be held at the Manchester Art Gallery from 13th May - November 27th 2016.  

Designer Roksanda took inspiration from yellow skin that was caused by TNT poisoning in WW1

Sadie Williams was inspired by nurses on the front line

Vivienne Westwood was inspired by woman working for the first time and wearing trousers and jumpsuits.

  • Words: Rebecca Parker