The striking crinoline-inspired creations of De Montfort University’s Contour Fashion students and alumni shared centre stage with rock legend Brian May last week, during the exclusive launch of his new book at the Victoria & Albert museum.
The musician, astrophysicist and stereo photography expert picked eight designs by DMU students and alumni to exhibit at the official press launch of his 3D exploration of the history of the crinoline, Crinoline: Fashion’s Most Magnificent Disaster.
The event took place in support of the V&A’s new exhibition, Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear, which opened last month.
A black leather, laser-cut crinoline with printed bodysuit and a blue lace, beaded crinoline and lingerie set by current third year Contour Fashion students Louisa Haywood and Katherine Blake, were showcased to an audience of prominent photography and fashion journalists.
Six other DMU designs were also on show, alongside the likes of Vivienne Westwood ‘mini crinis’, an 1860s crinoline dress and bodice, and costumes from Anna Karenina, starring Keira Knightley, made by Oscar-winning Sands Films Studio where the launch took place.
These were contributed by DMU alumni Jade Little, owner and creative director of Reckless Wolf; Sian Whitefoot, London and Shanghai Fashion Week designer; Samantha Tretton, designer for Abercrombie & Fitch; and award-winning graduates Christina Hallett-Young, Elissa Poppy and Selina Bond.
Historian and co-author of the book, Denis Pellerin said she was ‘stunned’ by the quality of the DMU collection and the innovative use of different materials such as lace, metal and wood.
He added: “We want to show the press that crinoline is alive and well, and that exactly 160 years after the crinoline cage was patented it still inspires young and very talented designers who use it in so many clever and elegant ways.”
Brian May said: “We have written the story of crinoline up to the 2000s. It now belongs to these talented designers to continue the story.”
May and Pellerin worked with DMU principal lecturer and programme leader for Contour Fashion, Gillian Proctor, to choose DMU’s crinoline-inspired collection.