Women Fashion Power at the Design Museum

06 March 2015

The Design Museum’s new Women Fashion Power exhibition looks at the different ways in which influential women have used fashion to define and enhance their position in the world.

That this exhibition has already inspired discussions on both BBC’s flagship Newsnight programme and ITV’s daytime staple Loose Women is proof that the debate around women and the clothes they wear strikes a chord with a huge cross section of people. Inspired by the rise of women into contemporary society’s most powerful roles, across sectors and around the globe, Women Fashion Power is particularly timely as more professional women are now engaging with contemporary fashion and no longer feel the need to follow strict rules and conventions.

Bringing together clothing, accessories, photography, archive footage and interviews, the exhibition celebrates exceptional women from the spheres of politics, culture, business and fashion - forward thinkers who have had an impact on our wardrobes and the world stage. As well as an historical assessment of the past 150 years of women’s social and fashion history, the exhibition features outfits loaned from twenty-six contemporary women including: Camila Batmanghelidjh, Founder and Director of Kids Company; Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty; Diane von Fürstenberg, Founder and Co-chair of Diane von Fürstenberg; HSH Princess Charlène of Monaco and Dame Zaha Hadid, Founder and Director of Zaha Hadid Architects – Hadid is also the exhibition’s designer. All of the women invited to contribute to the exhibition were chosen because they are leaders in their field, who understand that the clothes they wear are a part of the way that they communicate with the world.

As Donna Loveday, Head of Curatorial at the Design Museum comments 'today we see the evolution of a new power dress code - professional women are engaging with contemporary fashion as a way to express individuality, a sense of style and project empowerment. The women in this exhibition demonstrate their individual approaches to fashion - in their own words'.

Alongside contemporary outfits the Design Museum has secured a number of significant historical loans for the exhibition, which include an Edwardian riding habit, Suffragette costumes, an iconic suit famously worn by Margaret Thatcher on the day she was elected leader of the Conservative party in 1975, a 'Le Smoking' suit designed by Yves Saint Laurent in 1966, and a dress designed by Jacques Azagury for Princess Diana which she wore on the occasion of her 36th birthday.

Women Fashion Power is on show at the Design Museum until 26 April 2015.