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Rebel: 30 Years of London Fashion – Tracing NewGen’s Impact on Emerging British Talent

The newly unveiled exhibition, 'Rebel: 30 Years of London Fashion' commemorates the 30th anniversary of NewGen, a powerhouse for emerging design talents initiated by the British Fashion Council. The exhibit spotlights the pivotal role of London city in nurturing these talents, the incredible diversity of the NewGen programme, and the journey of prominent designers, creating a captivating narrative on the evolution of British fashion.

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Russell Weaver
Russell Weaver
Russell Weaver is a renowned writer, celebrated for his vibrant storytelling and intricate world-building. Beyond being an writer, he's an artist, dedicated to crafting stories that captivate, transform, and linger.
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In a stunning tribute to burgeoning British talent, NewGen, a fashion incubator platform fostered by the British Fashion Council, has been put on a pedestal with a new exhibition at London’s Design Museum. The exhibition marks the 30th anniversary of this groundbreaking initiative, which has backed an astonishing 300 designers in their early, formative stages of their fashion journey.

Unveiling on 16th September, the exhibition titled ‘Rebel: 30 Years of London Fashion,’ stands apart from most celebratory fashion exhibitions. The focus here is not on seasoned designers or their prolific careers but the nascent steps these creative powerhouses took into the enchanting world of fashion.

NewGen: Breeding Ground of Budding Talent

In the words of Tim Marlow, Director and Chief Executive at the Design Museum, “This exhibition is packed with works from fashion superstars, but the story is about their spirited, experimental young selves, that time when their talent was first recognized, and they began to believe in their incredible potential.”

The display, co-curated by Sarah Mower, BFC Ambassador for emerging talent, along with Rebecca Lewin from the Design Museum, focuses on the incredible trajectory of several young designers, many of whom have never had their creations exhibited publicly since their debut.

Stand-out Spotlight: Lee Alexander McQueen

Among the fearless bunch stands tongue-tied Lee Alexander McQueen, a member of BFC’s NewGen maiden roll. His debut collection, christened ‘Taxi Driver,’ a nod to the iconic Martin Scorsese film of 1976, was first witnessed in London in 1993. Unfortunately, the collection’s traces were lost outside a nightclub. The collaboration between Design Museum and Simon Ungless, close acquaintance and print designer to McQueen, has proved pivotal in kindling the memories of the birth of the ‘Taxi Driver’ collection.

Story Behind Creative Chaos

Ungless talks about his journey with McQueen and even managed to replicate two of the original dress samples using the techniques and shapes from the original collection. The models included a striking black lace number coated with latex and a second dress formulated from transparent resin entwining threads and feathers.

London: A Pivot in Global Fashion

Transcending the discreet section for McQueen, the Design Museum expands its gaze to the broader London fashion scenario. A city which has fostered copious talents, London has consistently proven to be a launchpad, nurturing fashion gurus right from their academic roots to their first collection launch and even aiding in the establishment of their brand networks.

Celebrating NewGen’s Kaleidoscopic Energy

The exhibition explores the compelling art education in the UK, the thriving start-ups, the city’s iconic club scenes, and the vibrant color palette and patterns embraced by NewGen designers. With nearly 100 ingenious fashion displays, this exhibit lies testimony to the depth and diversity of the NewGen initiative, drawing you into its charismatic allure.

A Testament to Emerging Talent

From the uber-popular, sugary blue ruffle dress by Molly Goddard that took the whole Instagram by storm when Rihanna wore it to the up-cycled Union Jack jacket by Russell Sage debuted by Kate Moss for Vogue, the exhibition reiterates the impact of NewGen talents on the industry.

The display also features a special segment shedding light on how star designers–the likes of Erdem and Roksanda–laid the foundation for their labels. Designers offer an intimate perspective on how they kickstarted their professional journey from the bare minimum, additionally providing insights on their inspiration, unseen hurdles, and the reality of starting from scratch.

As we navigate through an era of evolving fashion trends, this exhibition is a nostalgic journey into the past. It’s a reflection on how raw, unrefined talent skillfully incubated in the buzzing city of London, has shaped the global fashion scene of today, painting a vibrant kaleidoscope of talents coming together to script the future of the fashion industry.

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