AS THE Manchester Art Gallery Exhibition comes to a close, we take a look at what the Fashion and Freedom Exhibition has to offer.

Vivienne Westwood, Roksanda and Holly Fulton are amongst the fashion designers who explore how the First World War had an impact on the changing role of women and fashion.

The exhibition is in collaboration with 4-18 NOW and Manchester Art Gallery, with support from the British Fashion council. From the 13th May to 27th November, on-lookers have the opportunity to take a journey through time from 1914 to present day and discover the increasing rise of feminism through fashion and film.

The beginning of the war in 1914 meant over a million women went to work for the first time as men fought on the frontline. Job titles included bus conductors, ambulance drivers and factory workers. This new found responsibility gave women a stronger sense of power, freedom and identity.


Short commissioned films were available o, they offer IMG_3712contemporary reflections upon the social and cultural changes brought about by the First World War.

University of Huddersfield fashion students, Mariam and Kelsey visited the exhibition, they explained their thoughts on what they saw:

“I liked the one with the corset [Edith], I think there’s a really strong message in there. I think the woman getting dragged around by the strings symbolises society, how it’s controlling women. She’s trying to break away but it takes a lot of time.”

The film Edith is a 6-minute film about the fall of the corset. Spanish director Rei Nadal explores themes of femininity and role play in her work. Phoebe English was the fashion designer selected for the piece, her focus was accentuating the body through laboured construction.

(film contains brief nudity)

Students from across 5 different fashion schools, The Leeds College of Art, London College of Fashion, Manchester School of Art, the University of Westminster and our very own University of Salford were given the opportunity to showcase some of their work as part of the exhibition. The brief was ‘Restriction and Release’.

Rebecca Lawton, from the University of Salford, created  ‘Roll ‘em Girls!’ as part of her piece in the exhibition.

“I was inspired by the release side of this project and wanted to find a story that was encouraging and empowering for women at this time. I looked and read magazines and articles that were written at that time and one that stood out was called ‘The Psychology of Knees’ encouraging women to roll down their stockings and show their knees, because at that time it was prohibited and shocking for women to show their knees.

“After a lot of research, I was going into the hobbies of what women did at that time and obviously embroidery was one of them so I decided I would try and incorporate that into my idea along with having my design be provocative.”


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