Imogen Warner-Dart, BA (Hons) Fashion and Dress History graduate shares her experiences of collecting Amy Winehouse’s clothes and working with The Design Museum curators on the Amy: Beyond the Stage exhibition
Over the past eighteen months throughout the various lockdowns, I decided to develop a project as a form of continuation after graduating from the University of Brighton’s BA (Hons) Fashion and Dress History in 2019. As both, a fashion and dress historian, and a massive Amy Winehouse fan, I started my Instagram fashion archive blog called @amywinehousewardrobe which explores not only the brands worn by Winehouse, but also her own designs and fashion collaborations, investigating their historical connotations with Mod and Ska culture through her Fred Perry designs and so on. By discovering the brands of her most famous dresses and iconic pieces she wore on stage, I started to collect Amy’s clothes. I also sourced the designs as second hand items online.
During this period, my work was recognised by Fred Perry, friends and collaborators of Amy Winehouse, and finally the Design Museum curators who were putting together the exhibition ‘Amy: Beyond the Stage’. Initially the museum had two free mannequins, so they approached me to borrow two outfits from my collection to be displayed among Amy’s own clothes in the exhibition. However, due to mistiming with some of Amy Winehouse’s estate shortly before the opening of the exhibition, the museum found themselves needing more pieces at the last minute to fill the places of the missing outfits. I worked in collaboration with the curators to provide them with the pieces that they needed from my personal collection. What I hadn’t realised was that the curators in charge had been following my work for a long time while putting together the exhibition, and so were already aware of most of the pieces I owned. This made it a lot easier to figure out which items I would loan to them to stand alongside Amy’s own clothing.
I believe that Amy Winehouse has been one of the most culturally significant influences on style and art in popular culture from the twenty-first century. This is why I find it so fascinating to explore her fashion to further understand her impact on style today while exploring her own stylistic roots and inspirations. The twelve pieces which I have loaned to the exhibition will remain in the Design Museum in Kensington, London until April 2022.