Style in Revolt, T-10/SKP-S, Beijing
Hannah Beach, MA Fashion Curation alumni writes about her experience working on the exhibition
Thursday 16 December 2021 – Tuesday 1 March 2022
In September 2020, I took on a brief for a street culture exhibition from international communications and experiential consultancy, Kennedy. The project, which I had begun several months prior, had failed to progress from initial concept into a fully-fledged exhibition plan. I inherited a loose timeline from the project’s two industry consultants which outlined, in their opinion, the origins of street culture and with it street wear. I spent my first few months of the project researching the subject area, conducting regular meetings with consultants and fleshing out the timeline to find relevant stories, key figures and time periods.
This initial research began to develop into themes and themes into chapters or different sections of the macro exhibition plan. This started as a time period (1980 - 2021) broken into three chapters (The Genesis, The Boom, The Now) which each had an intention: the first chapter was to educate, the second to entertain and the final chapter to inspire the local Chinese audience. The chapters were punctuated with reoccurring themes or pillars of street culture. These themes were key to understanding the intent of the exhibition and were centred on five ideas:
- Silhouette - Items that are constantly reinvented and reinterpreted for the next generation
- Collaboration - From creative to now commercial partnerships
- Polymaths - Key figures who appear in different contexts and aren’t constrained to one creative practice
- Sampling - DIY practice of stealing and borrowing from other sources for both visual and audio outputs
- Media - A vehicle for disseminating the culture in analogue and now digital formats.
It was at this point I could begin to search archives and contact brands in order to explore content within these newly defined parameters. Owing to the tight timeline on this project, I was unable to contact museum archives and instead turned to personal and private collections to source material.
Using contacts I had made during my time on the MA Fashion Curation course (2018-2019) I was able to locate several key assets which were pivotal to establishing the exhibition narrative. These included the collection at the Contemporary Wardrobe, where I was able to research and loan original Westwood and McQueen punk items, in addition to an original Westwood ‘Buffalo’ jacket from owner, Roger Burton’s personal archive, but also Westminster Menswear Archive and HyMag.
During this time I began working closely with the exhibition designers, Buromosa on the spatial realisations of these different exhibition chapters, themes and the display of clothing, objects and ephemera. Our collaborative process began with the content of each theme and how it would inform the design of the space. This was done with a series of mood board references, rough sketches and the objects with intended display methods which were then interpreted by the designers through 3D renders.
The great sadness and frustration with this project was our inability to see the final execution in person due to the ongoing pandemic and travel restrictions in China. The final stages of installation were done remotely using handheld cameras and live video streams to get everything into position.
A challenging project but a huge achievement - I hope very much that this show will travel to other world capitals in the years to come.
Images by Hannah Beach