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The Museum of London makes public call-out for Jewish-designed clothing

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

Jan 25, 2023

Culture

Image: Museum of London; Bowie dress designed by Mr Fish / Trinity Mirror, Mirrorpix, Alamy Stock Photo

The Museum of London Docklands has issued a public call-out to find “iconic pieces of fashion history” designed by Jewish designers for its upcoming exhibition.

For its new exhibition ‘Fashion City: How Jewish Londoners Shaped Global Style,’ from October 13 to April 14, the museum is searching for high-profile items created by leading Jewish designers, including Mr Fish, Cecil Gee, Otto Lucas, Rahvis, Neymar and Madame Isobel.

The exhibit aims to uncover the contribution of Jewish Londoners to the global fashion industry by showcasing the museum’s extensive fashion and textile collection for the first time in two decades, alongside oral histories, objects, ephemera and photography.

Image: Museum of London; Rahvis evening gown (1952)

The display will represent all levels of the fashion industry at "key moments throughout the twentieth century," and allow visitors to step into the world of a 1960s Carnaby Street shopping boutique and a traditional tailoring workshop from the East End.

Dr. Lucie Whitmore, fashion curator, said in a statement: “Jewish people were working at all levels of the fashion industry in London throughout the twentieth century, but the extent of their contribution has been widely unrecognised.

“Jewish makers established the ready to wear industry, worked their way into the highest levels of London fashion and dominated Carnaby Street in the swinging sixties. Many of these designers were internationally famous – favoured by the rich and famous and highly respected for their creativity, skill, and originality. It’s a contribution that deserves to be recognised.”

Image: Museum of London; Mr Fish / Jon Lyons, Shutterstock

The Museum of London Docklands to place spotlight on Jewish designers for upcoming exhibition

The museum is calling on the public to locate key pieces that will highlight the impact of Jewish designers. Items include menswear pieces made by Mr Fish worn by famous names such as Sean Connery as James Bond, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Muhammad Ali and Michael Caine, as well as menswear pieces made by Cecil Gee worn by members of The Beatles, and 1930s or 1940s pieces made by Rahvis and worn by Hollywood film stars.

The list also includes hats made by Otto Lucas worn by stars such as Greta Garbo or Wallis Simpson, 1930s gowns made by dressmaker Madame Isobel, and theatre costumes made by Neymar for Cecil Landau’s production of Sauce Tartare (1949).

Image: Museum of London; Hat designed by Otto Lucas

Whitmore added: “This exhibition is a real celebration of the excellence of London fashion, highlighting the fantastic contribution of London’s immigrant communities. To tell the all-encompassing story, we want to locate other pieces by these designers and would love anyone who knows their whereabouts to get in touch and help us showcase their work and legacy.”

If you know the location of any of these pieces, the museum is urging the public to contact them via email at fashioncity@museumoflondon.org.uk by March 1.

Exhibition
The Museum of London
The Museum of London Docklands