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As part of The Box museum’s Dress Code collection – Plymouth’s first exhibition dedicated to fashion, Westward Bound have designed the bespoke garment, titled ‘Brand Me – Flag Me’, using a combination of green, black, and white in a nod to Devon’s heritage and to also represent the city’s history of garment manufacture.
Steve Beech, founder and managing director of Westward Bound, said: “We went for a relatable, funky-punky vibe for this dress. We want to reshape public thinking. People nowadays have been polluted into assuming that anything that isn’t modern, or that you can buy or sell, isn’t important. We’ve been made to think that knowledge is boring. Culture is fundamentally important, and being informed isn’t dull. It is power! Gallery connections need to be alive. You need to capture people’s imagination, and our dress has very much done that.”
Terah Walkup, Curator of Art at The Box, Plymouth, added: “We are acquiring the Brand Me dress because of Westward Bound’s local history and importance, and its representation of 21st-century fashion. Our dress history collection has items from the 1700s to 1970s, but very little material after that. We wanted to acquire this dress to represent the contemporary production of fashion and garments in Plymouth to continue the story of Plymouth’s history of garment manufacture represented in our collections.”
The Dress Code collection contains several thousand fine and rare prints, drawings, and watercolours from across the world, including works by Plympton-born, renowned 18th-century portraitist Sir Joshua Reynolds. It was also awarded national Designated Status by The Arts Council England in 1998, meaning that it’s one of the UK’s most important collections. Images of Westward Bound’s dresses against the backdrop of Sir Joshua’s paintings will be hung within this collection.
In addition to creating this dress, Westward Bound also created two dresses to represent The Box’s Cottonian Collection – one in aubergine and gold and another in classic, creamy-white with a mixture of Elizabethan and Victorian design styles.
Mr Beech added: “A lot of thought went into these dresses because it meant an enormous amount. For a brief moment, you’re a part of the history of that collection, and you have to be serious about that. We’re presenting these dresses in a very traditional context and paying homage to an iconic collection. We are very much embracing it and looking at how we can integrate ourselves into it because it’s a great honour to leave our mark on it.”
The ‘Brand Me – Flag Me’ dress will be on display at The Box’s Dress Code exhibition from this Saturday (April 2nd) until September 4th.
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