Fashion Trailblazers: Exploring the REBEL Exhibition at London’s Design Museum


The Design Museum in London has once again taken the fashion world by storm with its latest exhibition, REBEL: 30 Years of London Fashion. This groundbreaking showcase pays homage to the illustrious alumni of NEWGEN, a program initiated by the British Fashion Council (BFC) in 1993 to nurture emerging talent in the UK fashion scene. As the program commemorates its 30th anniversary, the exhibition serves as a testament to its unparalleled contribution to the industry.

Over 300 young UK-based creatives have benefited from NEWGEN, including luminaries like Alexander McQueen, Christopher Raeburn, Molly Goddard, Simone Rocha, Priya Ahluwalia, and Grace Wales Bonner. From avant-garde couture to cutting-edge streetwear, these trailblazers have left an indelible mark on fashion history, with their designs permeating pop culture consciousness. Notably, the exhibition highlights iconic pieces that have garnered attention through celebrity appearances, underscoring the cultural significance of London fashion on a global scale.

Rediscovering Fashion Icons

REBEL offers visitors a rare glimpse into the archives, featuring timeless treasures that have been resurrected for public admiration. One such gem is Marjan Pejoski’s legendary “swan” dress, which captured the world’s imagination when Icelandic songstress Björk adorned it at the 2001 Oscars. Originally showcased at Pejoski’s NEWGEN runway show, the dress epitomizes the fusion of art and fashion, transcending mere attire to become an emblem of sartorial innovation. Its resurgence in the exhibition underscores the enduring legacy of daring design in the fashion landscape.

The exhibition delves deeper into the intersection of heritage, identity, and personal narrative within fashion. Priya Ahluwalia, whose eponymous label reflects her Nigerian and Indian roots, showcases her latest collection, “Parts of Me,” which pays homage to Afro-Caribbean hair artistry. Through intricate prints and vibrant hues, Ahluwalia infuses her garments with a sense of cultural resonance, challenging conventional notions of masculinity and ethnicity. Her commitment to inclusive and sustainable fashion practices underscores the evolving ethos of contemporary design.

London: A Melting Pot of Creativity

London’s pivotal role as a breeding ground for fashion innovation is underscored by the Design Museum’s choice of venue for REBEL. With its rich tapestry of cultural influences and avant-garde sensibilities, the city has nurtured generations of designers who have pushed the boundaries of conventional fashion. As the global epicenter of creativity, London provides a fertile ground for experimentation and self-expression, attracting talents from diverse backgrounds and disciplines.

However, the exhibition transcends geographical boundaries, highlighting the global diaspora of creatives who have contributed to the tapestry of British fashion. Sarah Mower, BFC Ambassador for Emerging Talent and guest curator of REBEL, emphasizes the inclusivity and diversity inherent in the showcase, dispelling any notions of parochialism. By celebrating the myriad voices and perspectives that converge in London, the exhibition serves as a testament to the city’s cosmopolitan ethos and its enduring allure as a beacon of creative freedom.

Looking Towards the Future of Fashion

As REBEL invites audiences to reflect on the past, it also beckons towards the future of fashion. With its emphasis on sustainability, inclusivity, and ethical practices, the exhibition heralds a new era of conscientious design. By championing emerging talents who embody these principles, the Design Museum underscores its commitment to shaping a more equitable and sustainable fashion ecosystem.

Moreover, REBEL serves as a poignant reminder of the transformative power of fashion as a medium of self-expression and cultural discourse. Beyond mere garments, it is a reflection of our collective aspirations, identities, and values. As visitors traverse the hallowed halls of the Design Museum, they are not merely spectators but active participants in a dialogue that transcends borders and generations, reaffirming the timeless relevance of fashion as an art form.


In conclusion, REBEL: 30 Years of London Fashion stands as a testament to the indomitable spirit of creativity that pervades the British fashion landscape. Through its celebration of trailblazing designers and their iconic creations, the exhibition offers a glimpse into the ever-evolving tapestry of style, innovation, and cultural resonance. As visitors embark on this immersive journey through the annals of fashion history, they are invited to embrace the rebellious spirit that continues to define London as a global epicenter of sartorial excellence.