FASHION AND FREEDOM: The Manchester Art Gallery plans to highlight the way in which women’s roles, and consequently their clothing, changed during the World War I in a show called “Fashion & Freedom.” It is to run from May 13 to Nov. 27.

With the support of the British Fashion Council, the gallery has commissioned a number of London-based designers, including Vivienne Westwood, Roksanda Ilincic, J JS. Lee, Holly Fulton and Emilia Wickstead to create pieces inspired by the profound changes in women’s dress that took place one hundred years ago, during the conflict that killed more than 17 million and devastated Europe.

“Fashion is often dismissed as a frivolous thing, but in reality it is interwoven into our social and political history. This is why it is so crucial to tell this story,” said Caroline Rush, chief executive officer of the British Fashion Council.

The designers’ contemporary pieces will be showcased alongside garments from the Manchester Art Gallery’s archive, as well as a series of designs by fashion students.

The gallery commissioned students from universities such as London College of Fashion, Manchester School of Art and University of Westminster, to create pieces that explore the theme of restriction versus freedom for the show.

“This project exemplifies our wish to create connections between the past and the present, using our collections, and reflects our championing of female arts and designers,” said Maria Balshaw, director of Manchester City Galleries.

Accompanying the garments is a series of original short films by SHOWstudio’s Nick Knight and director Luke Snellin. Snellin’s short film, “First,” reimagines a young woman’s first day at work as a bus conductor, with the uniforms showcased in the film designed by British men’s wear label Private White V.C.

The exhibition is part of Britain’s official arts program marking the First World War centennial.

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