David Bowie, Greta Garbo and Sean Connery weren’t Jewish. But some of the clothes they made famous – Bowie’s dresses, Garbo’s hats and the tuxedo Connery wore as James Bond – all had Jewish designers.
A London museum is trying to collect some of these garments for an exhibition about the impact London’s immigrant communities have had on Britain’s fashion industry.
The Museum of London Docklands documents the city’s history as a port city, telling the stories of those who arrived on the Thames, from the African slaves brought by the Atlantic slave trade to the masses of Jewish immigrants who came in the late 1800s fleeing persecution in Eastern Europe.
Like their co-religionists who arrived in New York, many of these Jews found themselves in the garment industry after immigrating.
“Jews worked at all levels of the fashion industry in London throughout the 20th century, but the extent of their contribution has gone largely unrecognized,” fashion curator Lucie Whitmore said in a statement. of the museum.
“Jewish manufacturers established the ready-to-wear industry, worked their way to the highest levels of London fashion and dominated Carnaby Street in the sixties. Many of these designers were internationally renowned – favored by the rich and famous and highly respected for their creativity, skill and originality. This is a contribution that deserves recognition.
From October until April 2024, the museum will host an exhibition called “Fashion City: How Jewish Londoners Shaped Global Style”.
To complete the collection, however, they issued a public appeal for help in collecting notable artifacts created by Jewish designers such as Mr Fish (born Michael Fish), Cecil Gee, Otto Lucas, the Rahvis sisters and Madame Isobel ( Isobel Spevak Harris).
The statement says the museum is looking for ‘pieces of men’s clothing… worn by famous names such as David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Muhammad Ali and Michael Caine’, as well as ‘members of the Beatles’, from here. on March 1.
Fish produced some of Britain’s most iconic fashion designs of the 1960s and 1970s, such as the wide kipper tie. Cecil Gee began his career in the 1930s and designed the “Demob Suit” – short for demobilization – which was granted to British soldiers by the army after their release from World War II service.
Raemonde and Dora Rahvis were two South African-born Jewish sisters who, after emigrating to London, became one of the British film industry’s first high-profile costume designers.