NOW 14-18 have commissioned their first ever exhibition that will use student’s artwork alongside famous fashion designers at the Manchester Art Gallery.

The exhibition, ‘Fashion and Freedom’ which will arrive at the gallery May 13 will feature work from students across the country from five different fashion colleges. It will also feature exclusive designs from Vivienne Westwood, Roksanda Ilincic and other contemporary fashion designers.

All artists in the exhibition have created exclusive pieces inspired by the First World War and the impact it had on women’s fashion to mark the centenary.

Now 14-18Jenny Waldman, director and commissioner of the exhibition, spoke about the inspiration behind the idea: “Men are usually the ones we think about in the war, but one of the most important changes was that women were taking on the roles and jobs they had never done before, which is an extraordinary thing.”

The organisation, NOW 14-18, have already commissioned a number of exhibitions centred around the First World War, with exhibitions currently showing in Turner Contemporary, Margate, and Tate Britain.

Elizabeth Thomas, a student at the Manchester School of Art whose work will be featured in the exhibition said: “Everyone realised it was a brilliant opportunity after we got briefed on the exhibition, as our work is usually only displayed on a catwalk for two minutes, where as this display is on for six months in Manchester. To exhibit with designers is such an exciting prospect.”

The students were given the brief: ‘Restriction and Release’, and had a little over a month to generate ideas for their design. The chosen students then had up until just after Easter to finalise and create their pieces. The exhibition will feature work from 20 fashion students across the country.

Morgane Davies, a student from Westminster whose work was also chosen for the exhibition said: “It’s great that people are going to see our interpretation of the theme, I have no idea what the whole exhibition will look like but I’m excited.”

‘Fashion and Freedom’ will be shown at the Manchester Art Gallery from May 13- November 27, 2016.

By Abi White

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