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Dress For Our Time at the Science Museum

17 August 2016

“None I of us have all the answers - but by using creative ways to discuss the issues which really matter to us and future generations - we can find new ways to explore the evidence and stay in relationship to its truth.” Helen Storey MBE RDI

The brainchild of Professor Helen Storey MBE RDI, Dress For Our Time is the product of a multi-disciplinary collaboration from business, science, technology and fashion to humanitarian work.

For over twenty years Storey has endeavoured to work in collaborative ways, breaking down boundaries between traditional subject areas and using art and design as catalysts for change. Most recently, drawing together a diverse group of individuals ranging from Unilever, Met Office and the UNHCR, to explore ways in which public debate can be engendered through fashion, helping us to see things differently and connect like never before.

“Through Dress For Our Time and some of my previous projects, it has become ever clearer the importance of brokering projects which bring together brilliant minds from disparate fields. It is an ease with collective thought, that can lead to the breakthroughs necessary to change our course.”

Helen Storey and pattern maker Mark Tarbard in the studio creating Dress For Our Time , Autumn 2015. Photo by: Kathy Anne Lim

Made from an old tent gifted to the project by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) the dress forms a link to humanity and represents the importance of nurturing and protecting all people and safeguarding generations to come. The overlay of digitally displayed data turns this symbolic art installation into a direct call to action, harnessing the timeless appeal of fashion with the power of data-visualisation to communicate complex issues and stimulate debate.

First displayed at St Pancras International due to it’s positioning as the gateway to Paris – hosts of to the pivotal United Nations Climate Change Conference COP2 – the project was an invitation to ask pressing questions about the future from an entirely new perspective whilst capturing the imagination in a beautiful yet thought provoking way.

“With the scientific community overwhelmingly in agreement that climate warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities, Dress For Our Time asks us what we can do individually and collectively.”

‘Dress for our Time’, the world’s first digital couture dress, unveiled ahead of the United Nations COP 21 conference in Paris, in St Pancras International, London. Photo credit: Gretel Ensignia/PA Wire
Helen Storey MBE RDI, unveils ‘Dress for our Time’ in St Pancras International, London. Photo credit: Gretel Ensignia/PA Wire
Helen Storey MBE RDI, at St Pancras International, London. Photo credit: Gretel Ensignia/PA Wire
Through the snow to the UN. Photo credit: Storey, Helen and Tarbard, Mark and Betteridge, David (2015) Dress For Our Time Installation.

However this was only the start of the Dress For Our Time journey. In February the dress was then installed at the United Nations in Geneva as part of the TEDxPlaceDesNations Transforming Lives event. The intention this time: to delve into the complex matter of human displacement, in a pioneering endeavour to change the social narrative of this complex topic.

Another chapter begins today, with the third public installation of Dress For Our Time opening at the Science Museum. Once again fashion combined with innovative technology will be employed to focus minds on the issues surrounding global migration. Through a striking animation projected onto the dress, the very latest UNHCR data – which represents the movement of 8 million refugees around the world – will highlight the number and location of displaced people around the globe, humanising the numbers by using a point of light for every one hundred human lives.

“Worldwide, one in every 113 people on the planet is now either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking shelter – but numbers means nothing, if they don’t affect your own heart."

Chapter two of Dress For Our Time. Photo credit: Holition

"This project uses the power of fashion to help us connect to the previously unimaginable and asks how each and every one of us can remain a humanitarian in such a time of colossal and irreversible change.”

First sketch Professor Helen Storey. Photo credit: CSF
Dress For Our Time on dsiplay. Photo credit: CSF

Dress For Our Time at the Science Museum

Wednesday 17 August – Sunday 4 September 2016
Antenna Gallery, Ground Floor, Wellcome Wing

To find out more about Dress For Our Time and Helen Storey visit the Dress For Our Time website


The Dress For Our Time installation opens Wednesday 17th August at London's Science Museum. Photo credit: UAL


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