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Body Beautiful: Diversity on the Catwalk

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Date: 4 February – 29 April 2022
Main Gallery, AUB

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#BodyBeautifulExhibition


The first exhibition of its kind in the world, Body Beautiful: Diversity on the Catwalk looks at how fashion creatives are embracing inclusivity and body positivity by exploring five key themes: size; gender; age; race and disability. Visitors will learn how the industry is calling into question existing practice, and why it must address diversity from the inside out to reappraise contemporary ideals of beauty.

Body Beautiful examines how today’s fashion industry is challenging perceptions and championing alternative ideals of beauty on the catwalk, in advertising, in editorial and behind the camera.

Recent seasons have seen the most racially diverse, size diverse and gender-inclusive fashion shows in history, with brands like New York’s Chromat leading the way. In London, Teatum Jones chose not to stage a runway show at all for its spring/summer 2019 Round Table not Runway presentation and instead brought fashion-leaders and activists together for a discussion on the industry’s responsibility to better reflect society.

The exhibition champions the people, designs, and voices influencing positive body image and inclusivity, presenting key looks that show pivotal developments in contemporary fashion. On display are catwalk ensembles from designers including Simone Rocha, Charles Jeffrey, Ashish and Jean Paul Gaultier, brought to life through film, photography and fashion publications.

Highlights include a camel coat and matching hijab from Max Mara’s AW17 collection which were worn on the catwalk by Somali-American model Halima Aden. She was the first hijab-wearing model to walk the international high-fashion catwalks.

Also on display is a bustier from Chromat’s SS15 collection. The piece was modelled by Denise Bidot, who made history as the first plus-size model to open a straight-size show at New York Fashion Week.

Interviews capture the different perspectives of key influencers in the industry, from casting directors and models to stylists, editors, educators and advocates. The work of noted fashion photographers - including Nick Knight, Emma Summerton and Amos Mac - is displayed alongside audiovisuals from designers FTL Moda and Teatum Jones, fashion showcase Fashion Scout and other independent film-makers.

In planning Body Beautiful, the exhibition team consulted an advisory panel of specialists to ensure that a broad range of voices and experts in the field of diversity inform the exhibition’s content and accompanying programming. These include fashion commentator Caryn Franklyn MBE; model Eunice Olumide MBE; academic and writer Sinéad Burke and activist, writer and public speaker Jamie Windust. Bespoke mannequins have been commissioned to reflect the range of people represented in the exhibition, including two which were cast from life.

Georgina Ripley, Principal Curator, Modern & Contemporary Design at National Museums Scotland said:

“Diversity has become a key talking point in the fashion world in recent years, and Body Beautiful is the first exhibition to examine the various ways in which the industry is addressing body positivity. With more and more designers incorporating ideas around inclusivity into their work, attitudes are shifting, making this a particularly exciting time in fashion. The catwalk creations on display in this exhibition offer a refreshing counterpoint to historical, narrow ideals of beauty, and they demonstrate that diversity can be a consideration for everyone working in the fashion industry today.”

Image: © Simply Be Curve Catwalk AW17

TheGallery is open to the public from Tuesday – Thursday from 10.00-16.00 and Saturdays from 09.30-14.00. When visiting please follow the COVID-19 guidelines.

Arts University Bournemouth Easter Closure runs from 14 – 18 April inclusive and all gallery spaces will be closed.

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