During London Fashion Week, the British Council and the British Fashion Council (BFC) will present work by emerging fashion designers from 24 countries in an exhibition entitled ‘Fashion Utopias’ at Somerset House. The exhibition, free and open to the public, is the fifth edition of the annual International Fashion Showcase (IFS) and forms a key part of London Fashion Week’s public-facing program which celebrates the universal relevance of fashion in contemporary culture.
This year it is part of Somerset House’s Utopia 2016: A Year of Imagination and Possibility which will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the publication of Thomas More’s inspirational text, Utopia. Between 19 – 23 February 2016 the West Wing at Somerset House will be transformed into an imaginary terrain where an emerging generation of international designers and curators invite visitors to share their versions of the Utopia.
The exhibition will be arranged over 14 galleries, 13 of which will represent a country. There will be one group installation, ‘Next in Line’, curated by Shonagh Marshall and sponsored by Italian mannequin manufacturer Bonaveri, which will feature designers from 11 further nations.
The countries taking part in IFS 2016 will be:
Austria, Czech Republic, Egypt, Guatemala, Indonesia, Lebanon, Korea, Portugal, Philippines, Nigeria, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine.
Next in Line: Argentina, Bahrain, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, United Arab Emirates.
Country installations include:
- Thomas More’s vision of Utopia was singular and eccentric. In response to this the Czech Republic’s installation seeks to capture the free-spirited, and often unconventional, voices of a new generation of designers.
- Guatemala will portray Utopia as an everyday action that makes a wish come true or instigates change, and each designer will create miniature versions of their designs as traditional worry dolls.
- Indonesia will present a group of designers who are looking at modestwear with new eyes. Like many Utopias the installation will create its own cosmology with each designer representing an essential element – earth, fire, water and wind, – and their search for the elusive unifying fifth element quintessence.
- Each designer from Lebanon will create a customised piece for IFS in the unifying shade of blue. Lighting design inspired by Lebanese architecture will enhance the silhouettes of these one-off pieces.
- Lagos Fashion and Design Week in collaboration with Stranger concept store in Lagos will curate an installation of Nigerian menswear and womenswear that imagines the creative energy of designers as a cosmic bang. Inspired by optical illusions the installation will ask visitors to imagine a moment when the impossible fleetingly seems real.
The exhibition is part of Somerset House’s Utopia 2016: A Year of Imagination and Possibility.