The Museum of London Docklands is making a public appeal to find various iconic pieces of fashion history to put in an upcoming exhibition spotlighting Jewish designers in history.
The Museum of London Docklands is gearing up for a large exhibition scheduled for later this year highlighting Jewish designers throughout the London fashion scene’s history. Some of the pieces the museum is appealing to the public to locate include David Bowie’s dress, Greta Garbo’s hats, and the shirts worn by Sean Connery in his role as James Bond.
The pieces mentioned are known to be iconic pieces of 20th Century fashion, however, their current location is unknown, hence the public appeal. The Museum is calling upon the public to help locate the pieces of historic fashion to include in their exhibition on Jewish designers.
Fashion Curator Lucie Whitmore discussed in the appeal the significance of not only the fashion throughout this period, but the fact that they were designed in London by Jewish designers.
“Jewish people were working at all levels of the fashion industry in London throughout the twentieth century but the extent of their contribution has been widely unrecognized.”
“Jewish makers established the ready to wear industry, worked their way into the highest levels of London fashion and dominated Carnaby Street in the swinging sixties. Many of these designers were internationally famous – favored by the rich and famous and highly respected for their creativity, skill, and originality. It’s a contribution that deserves to be recognized,” Whitmore stated.
The specific pieces of fashion history that the Museum is hoping to locate includes: “Menswear pieces made by Mr Fish and worn by famous names such as David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Muhammad Ali and Michael Caine. Menswear pieces made by Cecil Gee and worn by famous names such as the members of The Beatles.
1930s or 1940s womenswear pieces made by Rahvis and worn by famous names, including Hollywood film stars. 1930s gowns made by dressmaker Madame Isobel (Isobel Spevak Harris). Hats made by Otto Lucas and worn by famous names such as Greta Garbo or Wallis Simpson, and Theatre costume made by Neymar for Cecil Landau’s production of Sauce Tartare (1949).”
“The Museum is searching for star pieces that will help to highlight the cultural impact and pop culture status of Jewish designers, who created some of the most recognizable looks of the 20th century.”
“The Museum of London Fashion & Textiles collection tells the story of London through garments that were made, sold, or worn by many generations of Londoners. This includes the stories of numerous Jewish designers and retailers who helped make London famous for fashion.”
Whitmore also discussed how London’s fashion history often recognizes the tailors and shoemakers of the East End, but very few take the time to recognize the massive influence Jewish designers had on fashion at the time, and even today.
“New research has allowed us to pull out some really rich personal stories that show the contributions that those people made to the London fashion industry,” Whitmore said, adding that it’s estimated around 60-70% of Jewish immigrants in London in the early 20th century worked in fashion or textile trades, so their impact should be highlighted and emphasized.
“We are not going to be talking about one shared experience, but we are using Jewishness as a lens through which to view London fashion. When you do that, you realize that Jewish people’s contribution is massive and really important, and we are just celebrating that.”
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.