I have just spent the past week at the Fashion Museum in Bath doing mannequin makeovers (pins, paint and Elnett) for Richard Lester’s latest book documenting the museum’s legendary Dress of the Year collection. I’m told the book will be a ‘deluxe study’ of the unique scheme – each year a prominent fashion expert is asked to choose a key outfit to receive the prestigious award and the nominated designer then gifts their design to the museum to become part of it’s world-class archive. Adel Rootstein also kindly donates a mannequin that epitomises the look of the moment. The DOTY collection dates back to 1963 (the first outfit is a grey tweed ‘Rex Harrison’ cardigan dress worn with a cream pussy bow blouse by Mary Quant) and features a Who’s Who of international designer names from Jean Muir (DOTY 1964 and 1968) to Raf Simons for Dior (DOTY 2012). It not only makes a fascinating record of fashion’s ever changing modes but also reveals how alongside the stalwart fashion houses that have weathered fashion’s capricious disposition (Missoni DOTY 1974, Kenzo DOTY 1976 and 1977, Chanel DOTY 1991 and 2008), there are also designers such as Barbara Hulanicki for Biba (DOTY 1972), Gordon Luke Clarke (DOTY 1978), Sheridan Barnett (DOTY 1983), who enjoyed one blazing fashion moment in the sun…

The picture shows my homage to Isabella Blow: a Deborah Milner evening coat and collar selected by Blow in 1997 when she was fashion director of The Sunday Times Style magazine. Ever the unique character, Blow chose not one iconic Dress of the Year but four including Hussein Chalayan, Julien Macdonald and Lainey Keogh along with jewellery by Shaun Leane. Aigrette from the Fashion Museum collection.

Dress of the Year by Richard Lester, will be published by ACC Publishing, Autumn 2014.


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