The chances are high that you’re currently wearing clothes, or plan to wear clothes again in the near future.
If so, this makes you an ideal candidate for experiencing the Fashion and Textile Museum – a beautifully stylish exploration of the world of modern clothing, founded in 2003 by pink-haired doyenne of British fashion, Dame Zandra Rhodes.
Located on Bermondsey Street in a distinctive orange-walled building with spacious, flexible interiors, designed by acclaimed Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta, the Fashion and Textile Museum is a destination with flair (and frequently, flares).
The museum is, unsurprisingly, a visual feast. Bringing together pieces by iconic labels like Vivienne Westwood, Balenciaga, and Dior – many of them personally donated by the designers themselves – alongside cherished loans from the public, the museum’s expertly-curated exhibitions and talks are a reminder that clothing has always been political, too; recent events have explored Mary Queen of Scots’ use of textiles as a tool for resistance (even whilst she was locked up), and author L. J. Adlington’s powerful book The Dressmakers of Auschwitz – recounting the women who survived the concentration camps thanks to their sewing skills.
Currently, you can get a taste of fashionable politics with the museum’s new exhibition, The Fabric of Democracy (until 3rd March 2024). The show looks at how clothing and textiles have been interwoven with propaganda, protest and political movements for centuries, from the French Revolution to Brexit. And looking ahead, FTM will be telling the story of the legendary British label Biba from 22nd March 2024, with tickets on sale now.
Beyond the Fashion and Textile Museum’s inspirational exhibitions, the key to its brilliance is its interactivity. There are a host of workshops on offer that bring the world of fashion to life; their packed schedule offers you the chance to learn everything from silk painting to brooch stitching to embroidery, to full-on couture dressmaking – pick something not-too-stressful and it’s absolutely ideal first-date material (material being the operative word).
As museums go, it really is cut from a different cloth.
NOTE: The Fashion and Textile Museum is open Tuesday – Saturday. It’s recommended to buy tickets to their visiting exhibitions in advance – you can do that HERE.
Fashion and Textile Museum | 83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF
Like discovering quirky culture? Check out our guide to London’s unusual museums