Women Fashion Power: History of Female Empowerment

Hurry! The Women Fashion Power exhibition closes on Sunday 26th April 2015. Deep dive into fashion history at the Design Museum as the show reviews the past 150 years.

This isn't your typical fashion exhibition in the sense that it doesn't focus on one designer or a particular trend. Zaha Hadid, the renowned architect, designed the exhibition. It looks at how influential women have used fashion to create their public image and assert themselves in male-dominated arenas. The way we dress helps us build our image and inform the way others see us.

Fashion is one of many ways that a woman expresses herself, so in a way fashion gives women a voice and it helps them discover who they are and stay true to that. And that is so important!
- Diane von Furstenberg

Women Fashion Power timeline: from 1850 to present

Over twenty women of influence from the business, politics, culture and fashion world are featured in this exhibition. They have each lent one of their key outfits - displayed at the at the back of the room. These outfits go from the classic LBD worn by Escada's Chairman and MD Megha Mittal to the crazy outfit worn by performer Lady Gaga.

Women Fashion Power follows a timeline starting in 1850. The first exhibits you will lay your eyes on are beautifully made corsets. Continue your journey back in time as you find out how women broke free from corsets to later adopt bloomers. Then comes the time of the Suffragettes to whom we owe a great deal. Take a look at their hats, attire and pamphlets before moving to the iconic Flapper style of the 20s. As Britain entered World War II, it was all about rationing. If you are interested in this era, head to the Imperial War Museum to see 'Fashion on the Ration: 1940s Street Style'.

As the country slowly recovered from the war, glamour gradually took centre stage with icons such as Marilyn Monroe and the rise of the Dior 'New Look'. In the mid-50s, the concept of 'teenager' emerged with idols like The Beatles and actress Audrey Hepburn. The youth culture grew stronger over the 60-70s as the mini skirt became a staple fashion statement. New haircuts, materials and social ideas emerged. The 1970-90s were an era of protest with the rise of feminist views and literature. The 80s were marked by the power dressing trend with the big shoulderpads (remember Dallas?). Punk culture and fashion are also represented in this exhibition (don't miss the Westwood bondage wedding dress). From the 90s to present, the exhibition focuses on fast fashion and the impact of new technologies on how we search, purchase and talk about fashion.


Design Museum,
28 Shad Thames,
London, SE1 2YD.

Nearest tube station(s): Bermondsey, London Bridge.


The Design Museum opens daily from 10:00am to 5.45pm. The last admission is at 5.15pm.

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