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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Trash Fashion Exhibition at the Science Museum

A small exhibition with a big message: Trash Fashion explores the possibilities in how technology can work with nature in designing out waste & the ever-destructive culture of cheap high street fashion.

Written by Georgia Takacs


Marie Anne Lynch, more about illustrated by Antonia Parker

This week the London College of Fashion exhibits work from eight of its 2011 MA fashion courses, stomach from photography to footwear. Housed in Victoria House on Bloomsbury Square, where the ON|OFF catwalk shows take place during London Fashion Week, it’s open to the public until 9th February. I went to the opening to see if I could spy some fashion stars in the making.

If you visit, be careful not to walk straight past the main event on the way to the basement – the clothing from the Fashion Design Technology MA is in the foyer on the ground floor. The well-deserved winner of Collection of the Year was Matteo Molinari (his name already sounds like a successful Italian brand), whose all-black menswear collection played with the proportions of sharp suits – a longer sleeve here, a higher waist there – and added crochet and cable-knit elements.


Charlie Goldthorpe, illustrated by Sarah Matthews

Another shortlisted designer, Jo Power showed dresses so long, black and formless I wondered if she’d been commissioned by the Church of England to create ecclesiastical wear. But in reality, Power could be well-placed to ride out a current fad: her brand of monochrome minimalism (save for the odd splash of scarlet red) is, along with Phoebe Philo, Jil Sander et al, the kind on which the fashion world is heaping masses of praise at the moment.

At the other end of the spectrum, Tatwasin Kahjeenikorn’s dresses were so densely encrusted with heavy hematite beads and trinkets they were difficult to lift off the rail. One black sleeveless sack dress was covered in rows of metal components you’d be more likely to find in a hardware shop than a haberdashery.


Paul Beckett, illustrated by Michelle Urvall Nyrén

Paul Beckett experimented with sportswear for men to great effect as tracksuit tops were rendered in leather and silk in muted brown tones. Who’d have thought the midpoint between chav and luxe could be so chic? His collection looks like an ideal portfolio for an interview at Adidas. Equally employable, I wouldn’t be surprised if Miuccia Prada offered Jennifer Morris a job in future – I can easily imagine Morris’s turquoise and blue silk pajama-esque trousers and matching jacket on the Miu Miu catwalk.


Zoe Grace Fletcher, illustrated by Gemma Smith

Over in the Fashion and the Environment MA room, students presented a variety of approaches to solving the problems of the unsustainable and wasteful nature of clothing production. If there was a prize for the best collection title, I would give it to Zoe Grace Fletcher. ‘Britain needs Ewe’ explored the local sourcing route to sustainability, and saw Fletcher learning how to shear sheep and dig for Madder roots to extract dye for her hand-knitted wool dresses. Focusing on clothes that can lead to a more sustainable lifestyle when living in a hot climate, Lu Yinyin took a hundred-year-old Chinese dying technique using yams and mud to create a silk that helps to keep the wearer cool. Lu found that air conditioning, a huge source of energy consumption, could actually be turned down a degree or two when Sun Silk garments were worn.


Paul Kim, illustrated by Karolina Burdon

From the title alone I wasn’t even sure what the Fashion Artefact MA course entailed, but it may as well have been called Fashion Accessories because hats, bags and shoes were the artefacts of choice for most designers. In fact, Charlotte Goldthorpe told me she started on the footwear course before the tutor decided she was ‘too weird’ (her words) and she made the switch. A wise decision, if you ask me, as her standout collection took found objects that had lost their functionality (a broken key, a locket that wouldn’t open) and cast them in spheres of silicon. Paired with traditional shapes like a doctor’s bag and an old-fashioned suitcase in flesh-coloured leather, the collection had a wonderful almost medical feel to it. Also in the weird and wonderful artefact category, Oliver Ruuger took the anonymous bowler-hatted businessman archetype and turned it on its head; his umbrella with a ponytail and briefcase covered in soft spikes and metallic studs are the antithesis of conservative dressing.


Ivan Dauriz, illustrated by Alison Day

All in all, the LCF collections may not be as avant-garde and ground-breaking as that other great London fashion institution Central Saint Martins, but there’s clearly a lot of talent on show at this exhibition. It’ll be interesting to see which of these graduates return to show at Victoria House in the future in its London Fashion Week capacity.


Marie Anne Lynch, drugs illustrated by Antonia Parker

This week the London College of Fashion exhibits work from eight of its 2011 MA fashion courses, online from photography to footwear. Housed in Victoria House on Bloomsbury Square, where the ON|OFF catwalk shows take place during London Fashion Week, it’s open to the public until 9th February. I went to the opening to see if I could spy some fashion stars in the making.


Vesna Pesic


Paul Kim


Oliver Ruuger


Yan Liang


Nam Young Kim. All photography by Katie Wright

If you visit, be careful not to walk straight past the main event on the way to the basement – the clothing from the Fashion Design Technology MA is in the foyer on the ground floor. The well-deserved winner of Collection of the Year was Matteo Molinari (his name already sounds like a successful Italian brand), whose all-black menswear collection played with the proportions of sharp suits – a longer sleeve here, a higher waist there – and added crochet and cable-knit elements.


Charlie Goldthorpe, illustrated by Sarah Matthews

Another shortlisted designer, Jo Power showed dresses so long, black and formless I wondered if she’d been commissioned by the Church of England to create ecclesiastical wear. But in reality, Power could be well-placed to ride out a current fad: her brand of monochrome minimalism (save for the odd splash of scarlet red) is, along with Phoebe Philo, Jil Sander et al, the kind on which the fashion world is heaping masses of praise at the moment.

At the other end of the spectrum, Tatwasin Kahjeenikorn’s dresses were so densely encrusted with heavy hematite beads and trinkets they were difficult to lift off the rail. One black sleeveless sack dress was covered in rows of metal components you’d be more likely to find in a hardware shop than a haberdashery.


Paul Beckett, illustrated by Michelle Urvall Nyrén

Paul Beckett experimented with sportswear for men to great effect as tracksuit tops were rendered in leather and silk in muted brown tones. Who’d have thought the midpoint between chav and luxe could be so chic? His collection looks like an ideal portfolio for an interview at Adidas. Equally employable, I wouldn’t be surprised if Miuccia Prada offered Jennifer Morris a job in future – I can easily imagine Morris’s turquoise and blue silk pajama-esque trousers and matching jacket on the Miu Miu catwalk.


Zoe Grace Fletcher, illustrated by Gemma Smith

Over in the Fashion and the Environment MA room, students presented a variety of approaches to solving the problems of the unsustainable and wasteful nature of clothing production. If there was a prize for the best collection title, I would give it to Zoe Grace Fletcher. ‘Britain needs Ewe’ explored the local sourcing route to sustainability, and saw Fletcher learning how to shear sheep and dig for Madder roots to extract dye for her hand-knitted wool dresses. Focusing on clothes that can lead to a more sustainable lifestyle when living in a hot climate, Lu Yinyin took a hundred-year-old Chinese dying technique using yams and mud to create a silk that helps to keep the wearer cool. Lu found that air conditioning, a huge source of energy consumption, could actually be turned down a degree or two when Sun Silk garments were worn.


Paul Kim, illustrated by Karolina Burdon

From the title alone I wasn’t even sure what the Fashion Artefact MA course entailed, but it may as well have been called Fashion Accessories because hats, bags and shoes were the artefacts of choice for most designers. In fact, Charlotte Goldthorpe told me she started on the footwear course before the tutor decided she was ‘too weird’ (her words) and she made the switch. A wise decision, if you ask me, as her standout collection took found objects that had lost their functionality (a broken key, a locket that wouldn’t open) and cast them in spheres of silicon. Paired with traditional shapes like a doctor’s bag and an old-fashioned suitcase in flesh-coloured leather, the collection had a wonderful almost medical feel to it. Also in the weird and wonderful artefact category, Oliver Ruuger took the anonymous bowler-hatted businessman archetype and turned it on its head; his umbrella with a ponytail and briefcase covered in soft spikes and metallic studs are the antithesis of conservative dressing.


Ivan Dauriz, illustrated by Alison Day

All in all, the LCF collections may not be as avant-garde and ground-breaking as that other great London fashion institution Central Saint Martins, but there’s clearly a lot of talent on show at this exhibition. It’ll be interesting to see which of these graduates return to show at Victoria House in the future in its London Fashion Week capacity.


Illustration by Aysim Genc

Did you know that we’re all buying a third more clothing than we did a decade ago? Yep, cialis 40mg you read that right. A third more in only 10 years. And are you also aware that today’s average household contributes 26 items of wearable clothing to landfill every year? Tallied up, that’s well over 600,000 garments in the UK alone. Can you visualise that waste? It’s A LOT.

The appropriately-named Trash Fashion exhibition is a relatively small presentation with a big message. Be honest, you can’t remember the last time that ‘textiles’ sprang to mind when thinking of world waste and pollution. Something along the lines of ‘oil’ or ‘water’ or ‘plastic bottles’ would be up there; never the words ‘clothes’, ‘dyes’, ‘fabric’. And yet, it’s a big deal. For example, a huge 17-20% of worldwide industrial water pollution is down to textile dye. The truth is that the concept of waste produced by the textiles industry is dangerously underestimated. Fact.


Illustration by Ankolie

Okay, so I didn’t predict a fashion-related exhibition at the Science Museum either. And, in its allotted space, Trash Fashion did rather stick out like a sore-thumb. One also is required to walk through the entire ground floor to actually reach the exhibition, which features steam trains, outer-space and other extravaganzas along with a large population of noisy children. As it was a Saturday, immersed in engines and spaceships, I’m guessing either über-nerdy kids or über-nerdy parents. However, I just used the word ‘über’ twice in one sentence so I’m clearly the nerd here.


All photographs courtesy of Lois Waller/Bunnipunch

Moving on, I learnt shed loads about ‘designing out waste’ in the fashion industry by wandering through. For one, I learnt that an initiative, led by Central Saint Martins, is being developed. An idea that started with a small mat of cellulose being immersed in green tea in order for it to grow into usable fabric. Fabric that is literally living and breathing. It turns out rather like leather and, having a feel of the fabric myself, couldn’t believe that it came from some bacteria bathed in green tea. Weird. Anyway, it turns out that, at this early stage, the so-called ‘Bio Couture’ is way too heavy and gooey to wear and would practically disintegrate in the rain. Nevertheless, it’s a damn-good start – the product is natural, non-toxic and compostable and scientists are working on developing the idea further all the time.


Illustration by Stephanie Melodia

Another part of the exhibition that I found enthralling was a project hosted by the London College of Fashion called ‘Knit to Fit’. It puts forward the concept of ‘Mass Customisation’, something that I could definitely see materialising in the near future. It starts with an individual having a 3D Body Scan done by a special computer that reads all, and even the very intricate, measurements of the body. This information, along with personalised details such as colour and pattern, is then transmitted to a fairly new machine in the textiles world that, before one’s very eyes, produces an entirely seamless 3D garment. No off-cuts. No waste. Considering that fashion designers are known to leave a whole 15% of the fabric they work with on the cutting-room floor, these are absolutely imperative pieces of technology in the movement towards sustainable and efficient textiles of the future. The idea is that, in the not-too-distant future, the average shopper will be able to stroll into a clothing store and have a custom-made garment made there and then that is unique to us and, most importantly, will leave absolutely no waste.


Illustration by Caroline Coates

Without a doubt, the most immediately imposing feature of the exhibition was a large, flamboyant dress, made out of 1000 pieces of folded scraps of the London Metro newspaper. It stood tall at the entrance and its grandeur seduced a small crowd to gather around and take photographs.
In my opinion, however, it just isn’t enough to rip up a few copies of the London Metro, origami fold them into numerous pieces and make a dress – not to wear, but to make a statement. Not to dismiss the skill that goes into constructing such a fiddly garment, or the fact that it DOES make a pretty huge statement. It relates waste and fashion to one another, which is crucial, through something impressive and, ironically, quite beautiful. But it’s been done. I’ve seen countless garments like these, designed for that shock-factor yet completely un-wearable. It’s time to stop representing the problem and to instead turn to the solution – to science. And this, bar the newspaper dress, is where ‘Trash Fashion’ came up trumps.

So, despite being a little late-in-the-day with this one, might not be worth trekking all the way to South Kensington to see this exhibition alone. If you do, time it in with a trip to the National History Museum or the V&A, both right next door. After all, it’s free entry. You’ll just have to hurdle past the children screaming at steam engines and Apollo 10 and I honestly don’t think you’ll regret it.

Trash Fashion: designing out waste is supported by SITA Trust as part of the No More Waste project and is free to visit at the Science Museum in London.

As part of the exhibition, there is an interactive competition whereby members of the public can submit photos of their ‘refashioned’ old garments, before and after, and could land their new design a spot in the exhibition. To upload pictures of your customised clothes go to www.flickr.com/groups/trashfashion

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One Response to “Trash Fashion Exhibition at the Science Museum”

  1. Kaz says:

    I loved reading this article – thanks Georgia! I stumbled across this exhibition on new years eve whilst taking my little cousin out for an afternoon of play. An interesting and unexpected treat. But, with a 3 year old tugging at my coat, I couldn’t spend as much time as I’d wanted taking all of it in.
    The stats on damaged caused by fabric dyes really struck a chord with me too. I’d never considered THAT sort of pollution before. And us spending a 3rd more on clothes than we did a mere 10 years ago is shocking. The curse of Primark!
    I made it my new year’s resolution to make sure I really do invest in quality clothing over quantity. A ethically well-made shirt will last well over a decade anyway.

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