Zandra Rhodes
Photo: Gene Nocon

Women Fashion Power

Women Fashion Power offers an unprecedented look at how princesses, models, CEOs, Dames and designers have used fashion to define and enhance their position in the world.

Posted 31 December 2014

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Zaha Hadid
Photo: Luke Hayes

Designed by the world-renowned architect, Zaha Hadid, this exhibition brings together exclusive interviews, an immersive multimedia journey and unique historic pieces of clothing to form the most wide-ranging presentation of modern fashion ever to be shown in the UK. Discover how women from Dame Vivienne Westwood to Natalie Massenet and Princess Diana to Anne Hidalgo have used fashion as an important tool of self-expression and empowerment to build reputation, attract attention and assert authority.

Exposition view Woman Fashion Power
Photo: Mirren Rosie

Who is featured in the exhibition?

Each of the contemporary women featured in the exhibition is contributing an outfit for display as well as sharing their personal style philosophy. In alphabetical order, the women are:
Genevieve Bell, Vice President of Intel Labs, Director of User Experience
Camila Batmanghelidjh, Founder and Director of Kids Company
Joan Burstein, Founder of Browns
Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty
Wei Sun Christianson, Co-CEO Morgan Stanley, Asia Pacific
Livia Firth, Creative Director of Eco Age
Miriam González Durántez, Partner at Dechert, wife of Deputy Prime Minister of the UK Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP
Diane von Furstenberg, Founder and Co-chair of Diane von Furstenberg
Thea Green MBE, Founder and Managing Director of Nails Inc.
HSH Princess Charlène of Monaco
Dame Zaha Hadid, Founder and Director of Zaha Hadid Architects
Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris
Roksanda Ilincic, Designer
Qiong-er Jiang, Artistic Director of Shangxia, China
Anna Jones, Chief Executive of Hearst Magazines UK
Alfiya Kuanysheva, CEO of BATT, Kazakhstan
Pearl Lam, Owner of Pearl Lam Galleries, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore
Natalie Massenet MBE, Founder and Executive Chair of NET-A-PORTER, Chair of British Fashion Council
Megha Mittal, Chairman and Managing Director of Escada
Charlotte Olympia Dellal, Designer
Julia Peyton-Jones, Director of the Serpentine Galleries
Dame Zandra Rhodes, Designer
Skin, Musician and lead vocalist of Skunk Anansie
Kirsty Wark, Journalist, broadcaster and writer
Dame Vivienne Westwood, Designer
Morwenna Wilson, Senior Projects Director at Argent LLP

Exposition view
Woman Fashion Power
Photo: Mirren Rosie

Exposition view
Woman Fashion Power
Photo: Mirren Rosie

Exposition view
Woman Fashion Power
Photo: Mirren Rosie

The exhibition is co-curated by fashion expert and commentator Colin McDowell and Donna Loveday, Head of Curatorial at the Design Museum.

Donna Loveday, Head of Curatorial at the Design Museum and co-curator of the exhibition said: ‘This exhibition is a celebration of exceptional women. All of the women we invited to contribute to the exhibition were chosen because they are leaders in their field and they understand that the clothes they wear are a part of the way that they communicate with the world. Today we see the evolution of a new power dress code - professional women are engaging with contemporary fashion as a way to express individuality, a sense of style and project empowerment. The women in this exhibition demonstrate their individual approaches to fashion - in their own words’. 

Margaret Thatcher suit
Courtesy of Christie's

WOMEN FASHION POWER also examines the last 150 years of women’s fashion with an immersive visual timeline which takes the visitor from the restrictive boned corsets of the nineteenth century to the statement Louboutin heels of today. Alongside archive photography and film footage, pieces on display include: a 1920s beaded ‘flapper’ dress, 1930s clothes and accessories owned by Elsa Schiaparelli, a 1941 handbag designed for carrying your gas mask in style, a ‘Le Smoking’ suit designed by Yves Saint Laurent in 1966, the blue Mansfield suit worn by Margaret Thatcher when she was elected leader of the Conservative party in 1975, a punk wedding dress from Zandra Rhodes’ 1977 ‘Conceptual Chic’ collection, a pair of bubblegum-pink 1980s Reebok Hi Tops and the Jacques Azagury dress worn by Diana, Princess of Wales on the occasion of her 36th birthday. 

Packaging for Black Net Extra Firm Control Girdle, 1960s © Marks & Spencer Company Archive, Marks and Spencer

Ventilated corset
Image credit From the Collections of Leicestershire County Council The Symington Collection

Packaging for Cream and White Bri Nylon Brassiere with Nottingham Lace Detail © Marks & Spencer Company Archive, Marks and Spencer 

Vivienne Westwood
Portrait Christian Shambenait

As more women are holding office and being recruited into society’s most powerful leadership roles, WOMEN FASHION POWER asks whether it is time to reassess the role of fashion in the public sphere – not a frivolous distraction, but an essential component of the working woman’s toolkit.
WOMEN FASHION POWER is designed by the world renowned architect Zaha Hadid. The exhibition is co-curated by fashion expert and commentator Colin McDowell and Donna Loveday, Head of Curatorial at the Design Museum.
Colin McDowell said ‘This exhibition shows how women have used different approaches to dress in order to make statements which are unique to them and their personalities. Few of the women in this exhibition would see themselves as fashion plates or even strong fashion followers. They create their own wardrobes, not to be fashion plates but to demonstrate who and what they are.’ 

Open: 10.00 -17.45 daily. Last admission: 17.15
Admissions: £12.40 Adults, £9.30 Students, Members and Under 6s free. PUBLIC INFORMATION +44 (0)20-7940 8790 W:

Design Museum
28 Shad Thames
London SE1 2YD, United Kingdom
+44 20 7403 6933

Exposition view
Woman Fashion Power
Mirren Rosie

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