Exhibition Review: Wool Re-Fashioned
Yorkshire may be about to boast one of Europe’s largest fashion destinations, but this isn’t the first time we’ve played host to exciting developments in the fashion world. Cast your mind back to ye olden days and we were quite the thriving capital when it came to the world of wool, thanks to the abundance of textile mills up norff’. Granted, we weren’t rattling off pieces as chic as your latest J.W. Anderson sweater, but we covered some pretty new ground nonetheless.
Delving into our history, the newly opened Wool Re-Fashioned exhibit at Saltaire is a wonderful study of the past, with an innovative and fresh new spin. The result of a collaborative project uniting the Yorkshire Fashion Archive, The Woolmark Company, and students and staff from our very own university, it re-works and modernises garments that span the decades of yore.
Thanks to some clever hoarders — who have probably seen their favourite trend come round over and over again already— the kind people of Yorkshire dug to back of their cupboards and parted with beloved pieces from the past. The selection, including stunners from Ossie Clark and Issie Miyake, as well as high street classics from Laura Ashley and Marks and Spencer proved as all-encompassing toiles, inspirations and aims. From there, students and staff in University of Leeds’ fashion department set out to recreate the garments, embracing our wool-rich history with fabrics from Woolmark’s Merino. No Finer Feeling™ collection. Adopting modern technology, traditional embellishment is recreated in laser-cut leather trim, capes are reworked with a metallic edge, and thermo-pleat technology is used to add volume to modern silhouettes. Speaking at the opening, revered fashion critic and founder of Fashion Fringe, Colin McDowell spoke of the modern fashion industry’s “mono-city culture”, which focuses too much on the main fashion week cities rather than considering the legacy behind the materials.
Presented side-by-side, old next to new, play spot the difference between the original and the rework. So, whether you’re clued up on costume history or have a clever eye for detail, or even just a sucker for style, Wool Re-Fashioned is definitely worth a see. Just a small train ride away and trust us, it’s a far more enjoyable way to spend a studious afternoon over flicking the dust off the pages on Level 11.