Rewind 1,500 years or so and the cobbled streets of York would be awash with the city’s medieval fashionistas sporting the latest must-have looks of the day complete with pointy shoes, pointy headdresses and trailing togas. Now, in a unique fashion show, a group of York College students are to stitch together this era with 21st century styles to colour the future of fashion with York’s historical heritage.
Next week, alongside the most significant artefacts of York’s past, the Yorkshire Museum will showcase the latest contemporary designs created by York College’s Fashion Design students inspired by medieval objects and the historical narratives of the city’s earliest days.
As part of the designing process, the students explored the exhibition ‘Medieval York’ which showed at the Museum until February this year, using the textures, colours and styles of objects from this exhibit to influence their clothes including the famous York Helmet from 750-75 and the Middleham Jewel from 1460.
Aisha Ali-Sutcliffe, who has orchestrated the project said: “It is fantastic to see how the students have combined the latest trends from places like London Fashion Week, with the themes and styles of actual medieval objects. The designs are brilliant and are testament to the hard work and energy they have put into researching and creating them. [This] is just another way of getting different people involved with their heritage in ways that at first may not seem obvious.”
After parading these designs down the catwalk, the fashions will later be on display in the museum for all to enjoy. This is the second time such historically-informed designs from York College students have been displayed in the Museum. The first event came last year with a collection of fashion designs inspired by the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus, the first black citizen to hold Rome’s highest office. Both occasions have been part of the Precious Cargo Project which is one of Yorkshire’s contributions to the Cultural Olympiad and which aims to diversify the museum experience.
Helen Weinstein, director of the Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past (IPUP), is master of ceremonies for the event. She said: “This is another great example of the Yorkshire Museum working with other organisations in the city to get people looking at their history in new ways. By showing these students some of the remarkable objects from York’s past they have been inspired to create some wonderfully striking designs which look thoroughly modern, despite taking inspiration from objects more than 500 years old.”
The fashion show is taking place Wednesday 4 July at the Yorkshire Museum at 6.30pm with a photo call at 6pm.