Exhibition showcasing fashion industry’s diversity revolution unveiled in Edinburgh

Academic and writer Sinead Burke, from Dublin, models a dress by designer Christopher Kane. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
Academic and writer Sinead Burke, from Dublin, models a dress by designer Christopher Kane. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
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The first major exhibition exploring the revolution sweeping through the worldwide fashion industry has been unveiled in Edinburgh.

Groundbreaking designs by Pam Hogg, Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier have been chosen to show how body size, gender, age, race and disability have been tackled in recent years.

The National Museum’s five-month show explores how traditional “ideals of beauty” have been overturned by models, designers, magazine editors and activists.

The exhibition recalls some of the most significant catwalk breakthroughs around the world, including the casting of plus-size, disabled, gay, transgender and Muslim models.

However the exhibition also examines how diverse the fashion industry has actually become, with a film featuring industry casting directors, stylists, photographers, editors and influencers offering their own takes. Among the objects on display are a dress and handbag created by Scottish designer Christopher Kane and a Burberry trench coat custom-made by fashion photographer Tim Walker, both for the disabled academic and writer Sinead Burke, who helped launch the exhibition, which has been developed with the work of the current crop of design students at Edinburgh College of Art.

Westwood is represented in a tracksuit, bag and sandals created for a catwalk show featuring Breaking Bad star RJ Mitte, who has cerebral palsy, like his character in the show, which features a jumpsuit and mac created for the model Josh Quinton by Hogg, one of Scotland’s leading designers.

A jacket and skirt designed by Gaultier is featured in the show to help illustrate how he has long championed diversity by employing models of various “shapes, sizes and skin tones”.