Ulster Museum Gets Fashionable with Feminism

Designs from top names in fashion including Missoni and Dior are among pieces which will go on show today at the Ulster Museum in a new exhibition, entitled Fashion and Feminism.

From runways to picket lines, the pieces in the exhibition tell the story of women who have made confident feminist statements through fashion. Fashion and Feminism examines the attitudes of feminists, from as far back as the 1800s right up to today, as they utilise fashion to express their belief in the social, political and economic equality of men and women.

Items on display include an elegant walking suit perfect for a suffragette ‘dressed to protest’ (1910), a Missoni ‘Pussy Hat’ (2017), based on the worldwide ‘Women’s March’ of January 2017, and the iconic ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ T-shirt designed by Dior (2017), inspired by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s essay and TEDx talk of the same name. Additional highlights of the exhibition include beautiful gowns designed in the early 1900s’ by the most powerful Parisian designers in the fashion world such as the Callot Sisters, Madeleine Vionnet, Jeanne Lanvin and Madame Grès.

A key highlight is a piece on loan from London-based designers Teatum Jones’ current AW18 collection which has the theme of ‘Global Womanhood’.

Art Curator Charlotte McReynolds from National Museums NI said: “From couture to casual wear, fashion has managed to make statements of how women want to be represented. This exhibition provides an opportunity for visitors to the Ulster Museum to explore the correlation between self-expression and fashion over the centuries.”

She added: “This exhibition celebrates some of the most extraordinary female fashion designers of the modern era, including Madeleine Vionnet, Mary Quant and Vivienne Westwood. From suffragettes using fashion as part of their campaign to win the vote, to contemporary designers shedding light on social injustices, this exhibition has a lot to discuss about feminist culture.”

A selection of talks and workshops will also accompany the exhibition, providing a more in-depth exploration of the links between fashion and feminism. Events include a lecture by Cally Blackman, fashion historian, author and lecturer at St Martin’s College of Fashion and Design (27 September).  Blackman’s talk is entitled ‘The Sartorial Strategy of the Suffragette Sisterhood’ and she will be discussing how the suffragettes used fashion to promote their cause.  On 25 October fashion writer and social justice campaigner Tansy Hoskins addresses the question ‘Can Fashion be Feminist?’ as she raises the profile on labour rights in the fashion industry.

Fashion and Feminism is part of National Museums NI’s year-long thematic programme Hear Her Voice which highlights the female artists, designers and iconic figures in its collections, through a series of exhibitions and events across the museums.

The exhibition opens to the public on Friday 22 June 2018 and runs until 2 June 2019. Admission is free.

For further details of Hear Her Voice exhibitions and events visit www.nmni.com/hearhervoice