Revealed: The exhibits given a starring role at the V&A Dundee

Striking outfits created by fashion designers Vivienne Westwood, Christopher Kane and Bernat Klein have been revealed as star attractions at the new V&A Dundee museum ahead of its much-anticipated unveiling within days.

The museum is designed by the acclaimed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.
The museum is designed by the acclaimed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.

The lid has been lifted on a host of highlights from the £80 million attraction’s permanent fashion displays, which will span almost a century.

Cutting-edge designers will be represented along with iconic styles, brand names and important industry innovations developed in Scotland in the museum, which opens to the public on Saturday and is expected to attract more than half a million visitors over the next year.

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The fashion pieces will explore how Scottish design talent has been championed by the Royal Family, industry giants such as Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, and celebrities such as Twiggy, Elizabeth Taylor, Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Crawford and Grace Kelly.

Ski ensemble, sweater by Pringle of Scotland, ski pants by Croydor of Switzerland, 1968. Picture: contributed

The outfits will be among about 300 objects charting more than 500 years of Scottish design heritage which will be featured in one of the centrepieces of the new museum, which has been more than a decade in the planning.

Lanarkshire-born Kane, who broke into the industry while studying at Central Saint Martins art school in London, will be represented in a dress – donated to the V&A’s collection from his 2015 autumn-winter collection – depicting entwined naked bodies.

Westwood, who is credited with shaping the look of the punk rock movement in the late 1970s, will be honoured for her long-time championing of tartan and Harris Tweed by the inclusion of a Savile Row inspired jacket, waistcoat and trousers.

Klein, the Serbian textile designer and painter who put Scottish fashion on the map in the 1960s after moving to the Borders, will be represented by a fabric jacket and skirt made from a “space-dyed” mohair tweed, while ski fashion-wear created by another long-running Borders firm, Pringle, in the late 1960s will also be on display.

Designs by Vivienne Westwood. Picture: Contributed

The exhibition will recognise the largely forgotten contribution of designer Bill Gibb – an Aberdeenshire farmer’s son who took the British fashion industry by storm in the 1960s and 1970s – with a dress worn by the pop singer Sandie Shaw.

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Paisley’s celebrated heritage as a hub of textile manufacturing will be honoured with the inclusion of a 19th-century shawl, while Shetland’s famous knitwear industry will be showcased in a Fair Isle jumper worn by General Sir Walter Kirk, commander-in-chief of the British Home Forces during the Second World War.

Joanna Norman, lead curator of the Scottish Design Galleries, said: “The influence that Scotland has had, and continues to have, on the world of fashion is truly remarkable.

“From the global adoption of fabrics such as tartans and Harris Tweed, to the enduring popularity of Paisley patterns and Fair Isle jumpers, the impact of Scottish design on fashion is as impressive as it is wide-ranging.

Fair Isle jumper, 192030 (V&A, given by Mrs M. Kirke). Picture: contributed
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“Innovation plays a key role in the story of Scottish fashion. The willingness to push boundaries, experiment and problem-solve has resulted in innovative designs, such as in performance wear, that have over time become iconic.

“V&A Dundee will represent designers from Scotland, as well as celebrate those who have embraced the country’s rich and distinctive heritage.

“Spanning almost 100 years of Scottish fashion, the museum will also celebrate contemporary designers who are writing the next chapter of the story.”

Other, previously announced, items of clothing in the Scottish showcase will include one of the world’s first Speedo swimsuits – the Riverback – which was made in the 1920s by an Australian firm set up by Highlander Alexander MacRae. One of the newest exhibits in the museum will be a dress by Edinburgh College of Art graduate Holly Fulton, said to have been inspired by the love affair between the Duke of Westminster and Coco Chanel.

Suit made with fabric by Bernat Klein, designed by Edwin Hardy Amies, c.1970 (V&A, given by Mrs Gould). Picture: Contributed

Scotland’s claim as “the home of the welly” will be represented with a pair of classic green Hunter boots, which date back to 1856 when American tycoon Henry Lee Norris manufactured the first rubber boot at his factory in the Fountainbridge area of Edinburgh.

Other highlights of the Scottish Design Galleries will include the reconstruction of an entire Charles Rennie Mackintosh tearoom, which was saved from destruction in Glasgow nearly half a century ago, an elephant-shaped promotional case created for the Fife-based linoleum firm Nairns Floors in the early 1970s by Leith-born designer Eduardo Paolozzi and artwork from a 1960 Dennis the Menace story in the Beano comic, which has been published in Dundee for the last 80 years.

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Philip Long, director of V&A Dundee, said: “Scotland has an extraordinarily rich design heritage and continues to lead the way with creative and inspiring innovations.

“The Scottish design galleries, which will be at the heart of V&A Dundee, will highlight and celebrate the influence of Scottish design both at home and abroad.”

Pair of Hunter wellington boots, 1989 (V&A, given by Gates Rubber Company Ltd). Picture: Contributed