To label Women’s History Museum as simply a fashion brand would be a wholly restraining statement. The design collective headed by Amanda McGowan and Rivkah Barringer has dabbled in performance art as well as politics, meanwhile addressing themes of femininity, diversity and gender fluidity in a largely anti-fashion manner. To top off the list, last year they produced a zine with London-based publisher and dominatrix Reba Maybury. The thing which really pisses them off about mainstream fashion is the common ‘exploitation disguised as innovation.’ With designers left, right and centre, fleeing the New York Fashion Week schedule (Rodarte and Proenza Schouler to name a few), Women’s History Museum appear as part of the fortuitous antidote to, what could otherwise become a barren capitalist landscape of American fashion.
“We began WHM as an expression of our friendship and from a desire to create fashion objects and representations that were not available at the time”
“Our clothes give the impression of a heightened sense of delicacy framed by the actual rebelliousness of the subjects who wear our work”
Having met in college at NYU, neither McGowan nor Barringer studied fashion, resulting in the authentic DIY appearance of the collective’s sculptural garments. Hints of traditional lace peep out underneath chiffon cloaks while a mash-up of glittered sequins paired with vintage graphic images form the outer layer of a handbag. It is precisely this irregularity and unpredictability that provides the charm of the off-kilter label – with Women’s History Museum you are sure to see something that you haven’t before.
Dolls are of constant inspiration to the pair due to the seemingly endless possibilities to construct and deconstruct the notion of stereotypical femininity. Keeping in line with the rise of ethical fashion, the collective often repurposes old garments and utilises vintage materials while bringing their creations to life. With their fourth presentation under their belt, the clothes fill a Meadham Kirchoff shaped-gap in fashion, with the aesthetic of the pair’s endless muse, Courtney Love during her Hole heyday, of course. With an output that’s as original as it is rare, cue the fantastical world of the Women’s History Museum.