The Fashion and Textile Museum SE1 is back

What's in store at the colourful Bermondsey institution over the next few months

Fashion designers achieve fame from the work they produce and the public figures they clothe. But Dame Zandra Rhodes has another claim to status, and that is the Fashion and Textile Museum.

Established in Bermondsey by her just before the millennium, it has achieved note for its exhibitions as well as contributing to the regeneration of an area left bereft by the dereliction of its docks.

Like everywhere else, it was subject to the restrictions of lockdown. Now, it has reopened – permanently, we hope. What greets us there?

At present there is a continuation of Out of the Blue: Fifty Years of Designers Guild. This exhibition celebrates the work produced by this influential interior design company founded 50 years ago by Tricia Guild OBE as a small section of a shop in the King’s Road, when Chelsea still had a bohemian atmosphere and reputation.

It shows how Guild’s work stemmed from a lack of what she felt were truly contemporary wallpapers and fabrics, and how she has sought to remedy this. We see how, with an instinctive flair, she has created a range of designs combining colours, patterns, and textiles that work together harmoniously, giving an overall cool, relaxing feel. It’s easy to see why her work has expanded into a global enterprise. The exhibition ends on 21 February 2021.

And, planned for next year, are two more exhibitions

Chintz: Cotton in Bloom. This textile may have been sneered at as being – shock, horror – suburban, but this exhibition will show it as a treasured and versatile material used throughout the world, featuring items ranging from mittens to wall hangings and 18th Century sun hats to stylish mourning dresses. Will it propel chintz to becoming cutting-edge? 12th March 2021 until 15th August 2021

Beautiful People: The Boutique in 1960s Counterculture. Post-war fashion – like everything else in society at that time (at least, on the surface) – was marked by austerity and formality. The social and political upheavals of the 1960s started to change all that, with films such as Blow Up and Performance capturing the new spirit of the times. Fashion was not immune from this process. The exhibition will feature work from innovative designers such as Thea Porter and Ossie Clark, and trend-setting shops such as Granny takes a Trip, Hung on You and Biba. Of course, it took time for this new fashion sensibility to spread from ‘Swinging London’ to the decidedly-uncool provinces, but the era left an indelible mark on fashion designs and attitudes which continues to this day. 3rd September 2021 until January 2022

This year, we’ve had little choice but to spend much time at home, and may feel our living spaces are in need of renewal. And, just as Dame Zandra remains a walking style statement, we may want to strut our stuff in the streets with a bit of imagination. Seeing what’s on offer at the F & T can, at least, give us some inspiration for both.

Adjusted opening times: Wednesday: 11am – 4pm, Thursday: 11am – 4pm, Friday: 11am – 4pm, Saturday: 11am – 4pm. For further details of the museum’s opening times and activities, see

Image: Ewan Munro/ Creative Commons

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