33.Bianca Saunders Yellow Ss20 Campaign Shot And Styled By Ronan Mckenzie

The Missing Thread

love | Oct 20, 2023

In the midst of Black History Month, the fashion world finds itself at a critical juncture. Recent headlines have starkly illuminated the lack of representation and diversity among fashion house CEOs, raising poignant questions as to what extent the promises of change that followed the global outcry of the Black Lives Matter movement have materialised within top industry positions. Séan McGirr recently took his spot as Alexander McQueen’s new creative director, making Kering’s entire cast of creative directors white men. These regressive appointments remind us of the inequality that is deeply embedded within the industry and the need for change.

By Ella de Peretti

Nestled into the historic cobblestoned West Wing of Somerset House, a powerful new exhibition offers a counter-narrative to these uncomfortable truths. ‘The Missing Threads’ delves deep into the complex tapestry of Black British fashion, spotlighting the pivotal yet often overlooked contributions made by Black creatives over the last 50 years, in a display that is as immensely joyful as it is thought-provoking.

Telling the important and often “untold stories of Black British Fashion”, the exhibition charts the shifting landscape of Black British culture and the unique effect it has on Britain's enduring unbridled creative output and rich fashion design history. Divided into four parts – Home, Tailoring, Performance, and Nightlife – the exhibition weaves audiences through neon lights, towering sound systems and powerful designs in a multi-sensory celebration of fashion that looks beyond the garments and tells deeply personal, inter-generational stories across borders.

Spotlighting the work of contemporary designers, photographers, artists and icons from across the field of fashion pays homage to luminaries like the incomparable Grace Jones, the tailoring powerhouse Ozwald Boateng, as well as visionary photographers like Vanley Burke and Armet Francis, who captured the essence of their communities offering alternative perspectives of identity through the lens. The sparking showcase also includes works from design veterans and emerging talents alike, featuring captivating new commissions from contemporary designers such as Nicholas Daley, Bianca Saunders and Saul Nash, who we caught up with earlier this year, as well as painting greats such as Chris Ofili and Keith Piper.

Clio Portrait Of Dorothea Smartt 1989 Maud Sulter Estate Of Maud Sulter All Rights Reserved Dacs 2023
She Rockers Shoot With Horse Back Police Intruding Shepherds Bush 1988

From Nicholas Daley’s intricately knitted installations to the royally commissioned shimmering gowns of Bruce Oldfield, The Missing Thread is an inspiring testament to the legacy, innovation, and creativity of Black British fashion. It serves as a reminder of the diverse voices that have shaped and continue to influence the ever-evolving fashion landscape within Britain and beyond. Here, everyone is invited to celebrate the untold stories, the missing threads that weave into the great dynamic history of British style and cultural influence.

In line with the exhibition, The British Fashion Council has just announced the launch of the BFC Foundation MA Joe Casely-Hayford Scholarship and the first-ever recipient as well as the late Joe Casely Hayford’s posthumous Special Recognition Award, which he will be honoured with at The Fashion Awards 2023 on 4th December at the Royal Albert Hall, London. Both the scholarship and award pay tribute to Casely-Hayford’s enduring legacy and recognise his incredible contributions to fashion and culture.

The 2023/24 BFC Foundation Joe Casely-Hayford MA Scholarship recipient is Taya Francis at Nottingham Trent University. The scholarship provides support and funding to a student from a Black or mixed heritage background who has an offer from, or is currently studying for, an MA at a BFC Colleges Council member university.

Nicholas Daley Working On His Commission For The Missing Thread Untold Stories Of Black British Fashion At His Somerset House Studio Photo By Anne Tetzlaff A
Joe Casely Hayford I D Magazine 102 March 1992 The Technology Issue Photo By Takashi Homma