The Radical Decade

Riches, Caroline (2016) The Radical Decade. [Show/Exhibition]

Abstract

The output is a curated exhibition called ‘The Radical Decade’, reviewed by Kevin Almond from University of Leeds. It explores the 1960s archive of fashion designer, Gerald McCann’s (1931-2019) work. It aimed to rediscover and celebrate the work of the designer. Research process: Riches discovered McCann’s large archive, stored in folders and multiple boxes in a garage. The enquiry involved the collection of this primary data. This included original designs, for example ‘Uniform’ (1960s). In addition to the archive material, a call was put out for people to donate original garments for exhibition in ‘The Radical Decade’. Riches decided that the documentation of McCann’s fashion illustrations was a key part of the exhibition. Research insights: The items of clothing displayed in the exhibition demonstrated McCann’s approach to design, pattern cutting and manufacture in the 1960s. It seemed that the fashion ideal of the 1960s was to make women look like little girls. The cut of the clothing had evolved through the tiny silhouettes of each style, for example Peter Pan collars, the A line and ‘Baby Doll’ silhouettes. The exhibition demonstrated how a designer can manoeuvre their own work to reflect the zeitgeist, in this case the cultural explosion of the 1960s. Dissemination: The exhibition was disseminated at Blenheim Walk Gallery, Leeds Arts University, 7 October – 16 December 2016. The research was also explored at a one-day symposium, organised by Sharon Bainbridge. Riches was also asked to contribute to McCann’s obituary in The Times in 2019.

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