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Design Museum to host Amy Winehouse retrospective exhibition

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

Nov 25, 2021

Culture |In Pictures

Image: courtesy of the Design Museum by Ed Reeve

London’s Design Museum is opening an exhibition celebrating the creativity and legacy of British musician Amy Winehouse on November 26.

‘Amy: Beyond the Stage’ marks the 10-anniversary of the singer’s death and explores her creative process, from concept to stage, from her emergence as an artist, her musical influences, her key albums, as well as the story behind her iconic beehive and her most memorable fashion moments.

This is the first major retrospective exhibition on Winehouse and has been put together as a celebration of an artist the world lost too soon. It starts at the early stages of her career, allowing visitors to follow her rise to stardom and get to know the singer through previously unseen personal items, including her teenage notebooks, photographs and handwritten lyrics.

Image: courtesy of the Design Museum by Ed Reeve

The exhibit also explores Winehouse’s love of music, from jazz to soul, R&B to hip-hop, paying tribute to her unmistakable voice and confessional lyrics, as well as her musical influences including Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughn, Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, the Shagri-Las, the Ronettes, Motown, Salt-N-Pepa, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badhu, The Specials, Mark Ronson, and Salaam Remi.

Visitors can experience a studio space inspired by the Metropolis recording studio, where ‘Back to Black’ was recorded, and enter an immersive experience based on the track ‘Tears Dry on Their Own,’ both created by the renowned set designer Chiara Stephenson, with digital design by Luke Halls Studio and artwork by Studio Moross. Visitors will also have the chance to delve into the singer’s confessional lyrics through her personal annotations and uncover the graphic design stories behind her critically acclaimed albums.

Image: courtesy of the Design Museum by Ed Reeve

Design Museum examines Amy Winehouse’s style in a new retrospective exhibition

There is also a look at her eclectic style through photography and the original outfits she wore during her greatest performances, from high street clothes to designer brands such as Preen and Moschino for the Brit Awards in 2007, as well as looks by designers Roberto Cavalli, John Galliano and Dolce and Gabbana.

Image: courtesy of the Design Museum by Ed Reeve

Covering the ‘Frank’ and ‘Back to Black’ eras, the exhibition examines how Winehouse’s style evolved from the loose-flowing hair and retro wardrobe of the early 2000s to the iconic bold eyeliner, beehive hairstyle and contemporary look that she wore for the launch of her second album. Visitors can also see her impact on the fashion world and meet some of the designers who collaborated with the singer, including Fred Perry, and explore the culture behind the artist’s favourite accessories, from her popular ‘dolly pump’ shoes to hair adornments.

In the final section, the exhibition delves into Winehouse’s legacy in both music and design, celebrating how designers and musicians have paid homage to her work, from musical tributes to catwalk fashion by Karl Lagerfeld and Chanel.

Image: courtesy of the Design Museum by Ed Reeve

Priya Khanchandani, head of curatorial and exhibition curator at the Design Museum, said in a statement: “Amy’s amazing voice, confessional lyrics and provocative manner made her one of the most important artists of our time. With a sound characterised by 1960s American pop and jazz fused with soul and R&B, she resisted the singular nature of genre, and this was reflected in her image.

“Although outwardly, Amy defied the notion of design and was incredibly down-to-earth, she had an unmistakable style and drew on a curated set of eclectic and diverse influences. This exhibition pays tribute to the collage of references Amy drew on and which made her a character that was and remains larger than life.”

‘Amy: Beyond the Stage’ opens on November 26 at the Design Museum, London.

Image: courtesy of the Design Museum by Ed Reeve
Image: courtesy of the Design Museum by Ed Reeve
Image: courtesy of the Design Museum by Ed Reeve