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Pop! Design, Culture, Fashion Exhibition @ Fashion and Textile Museum

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by Dominic Simpson (subscribe)
Freelance writer based in East London. Check out more of my writing at
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It's difficult not to notice the Fashion & Textile Museum from the street. Located in one of Bermondsey's more upmarket areas, just down the road from the Design Museum, and with some seriously plush looking pubs nearby, the Fashion & Textile Museum is the brainchild of fashion grandma Zandra Rhodes, who opened her first shop off King's Road in 1969. Seen from the outside, the building is a riot of pink, yellow, orange and blue – all bright, arresting colours that make it even harder to believe that it was once a cash-and-carry warehouse before being converted in 2003.

Entrance to Fashion & Textile Museum

While spectacular enough, the Fashion & Textile Museum has no permanent exhibition, instead offering an ongoing program of temporary displays. This means that the museum focuses on only one 'theme' at any time, which at the moment happens to be retro fashion with the exhibition 'POP! Culture and Fashion 1955 – 1976.' Somewhat inevitably, the side room begins with Brando in 'The Wild Bunch' and 50s jukeboxes before the viewer is treated to mod culture ephemera and miniskirts in the main hall, which is on two levels.

View of main room ground floor

Some very 60s-looking furniture...

...and some bric-a-brac seemingly lifted directly from 'Sgt Pepper'

Up the stairs, meanwhile, we get to psychedelia, glam rock, and punk, with much mention made to Roxy Music, David Bowie, and the Ramones. There are multi-coloured adverts for Hendrix and Dylan playing in London in '68, and mentions of the flower-power scene in Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco. But the real draw is the huge hypnotic psychedelic wall art, accompanied by clothes that could be straight out the film 'Blow-Up'. Groovy.
Groovy wall art with matching clothes
More groovy wall art with matching clothes

Accompanying the installation is a friendly, brightly-coloured café
Teapod image
Some nice tea in the cafe (image courtesy of teapod's site)
facing the street, owned by the Teapod chain, serving some tasty stews and meat or vegetarian soups; there's also a shop, whose product ties in with whatever
The Shop (image courtesy of the Fashion & Textile Museum's website)
the exhibition focuses on. While all nice enough, you can't help but think that, just like the Design Museum down the road, the Fashion & Textile Museum could do with a permanent exhibition, to provide some kind of context. Instead, the visitor is left to rely only on the theme of the current exhibition.

Still, fans of all things 60s and 70s will love the exhibition. Hurry up, though – it finishes at the end of October 2012.
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When: 11am-6pm Tue-Sat (last adm 5.15pm)
Where: 83 Bermondsey St, London SE1 3XF
Cost: £7, £5 concs, under-12s free
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