Women, Fashion, Power @ the Design Museum, London

So, I took the trusty 48 to London Bridge and headed east along the riverfront. I'd never been up here and it's lovely looking out at Tower Bridge and the Tower itself on a sunny day. The Walkie Talkie is a scar of the skyline from this angle, a bulbous blight, overinflated with a sense of it's own importance it looks strangely distorted with it's expanding waistline and is somehow out of sync with the buildings around it. However, I love the beautiful new City Hall (designed by Norman Foster) and built right on the water front at the foot of Tower Bridge. There's plenty of room around it and so you can really see the sweep of the building which is like a modern glass egg laid down in the middle of London. Apparently the downstair cafe (which serves affordable lunches) is worth checking out.
I walked east of Tower Bridge past the shopping center in Hays Galleria. This is a converted warehouse district and there are a number of restaurants along the river - including Pont de la Tour which has been around for an age, I was astonished to see they have a £15 two course lunch in their downstairs bar/grill where you can sit outside on a charming terrace. I'll definitely be back for that, hopefully on another sunny day.
There was my destination in a rather shabby small building and after all that I'm going to tell you that in 2016 (this date keeps changing, as it was meant to be this year) it's relocating to the old Commonwealth Institute on Kensington High Street. I can tell I've been out of London for decades, because I didn't know that the Commonwealth Institute had close, apparently in 2002!
I'd come to see the WOMEN, FASHION AND POWER exhibit and all I can tell you is don't feel badly if you didn't make it to this one. I was bitterly disappointed, lots of fashion but not much power if you ask me. Given the great names they had involved in this (including Zaha Hadid) it was rather pedestrian and it had the problem that all the least interesting fashion exhibits have lots of stiff mannequins with no character, animation or context. Lesson learned - I should have read the reader reviews at TimeOut not the PR hype in the papers which seemed to be talking about the exhibit before, rather than reviewing it after it opened.

The best bit was a display of outfits (shoved in a corner, above) in which women explained why these particular clothes made them feel powerful, but the blubs were at the mannequin's feet so you had to squat uncomfortably to read them, not the most powerful  position for any of us! Ohh well, a lost opportunity there. 
The exhibit spent a lot of time covering the history of fashion in a rather straight forward manner, here are some of the costumes from the new Suffragette movie coming out soon.

While there were some interesting photos but much of what there was in the early sections involved quotes or copes rather an original pieces. Here's the original bikini which looks pretty high cut to me! You can see why it caused a sensation in 1946.
There was a fairly pedestrian description of trends through the 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's, along with a few examples.
They seemed to be avoiding the entire "power dressing" discourse but here was a suit worn by Margaret Thatcher. Where we finally going to get to the discussion about power? No maybe not!
There was a fairly cursory nod to more contemporary trends. For some reason the hats below were displayed way above our heads and I had to stand on a bench to get the photo.
Overall unsatisfying and very static. They need a new space and hopefully it will provide inspiration for a more dynamic, focused shows. I was so disappointed with the exhibit that I  needed to rescue the day and so I headed over to the Thea Porter Show at the Fashion and Textile Museum. What a contrast, I loved it. It was a gem, the clothes where shown in a context and you left with a sense of the times and the aesthetic of Porter. I'll certainly be heading to their next offering Riviera Style. Hopefully I'll even manage a blog post.
I can't resist including this photo!