Dress of the Year

Bath’s Fashion Museum has announced who will be choosing this year’s ‘Dress of the Year’. He’s award-winning fashion journalist and educator Ian R Webb.

Each year, the Fashion Museum invites a top name from the fashion industry to select an outfit that encapsulates the prevailing mood of fashion, represents the past year and captures the imagination. The chosen design becomes part of the Fashion Museum’s world-class collection.

Iain, who is currently a Bath resident, grew up in the area and has visited the Museum since his schooldays, when he used to sit and sketch the fashions on display.

From those early beginnings, Iain went on to become an award-winning fashion journalist and, as Professor of Fashion & Design at Kingston School of Art, is now one of this country’s leading fashion educators.

Among his academic roles, he is an associate lecturer at Bath School of Art and Design at Bath Spa University, and Central Saint Martins, where he inspires generations of fashion students, frequently drawing on and referencing the Fashion Museum’s collections.

Iain R Webb said: “I am thrilled to be invited to select Dress of the Year 2020, especially as the first person to be asked twice since the scheme’s inauguration in 1963. The Fashion Museum has always been part of my life. As a boy visiting the Museum, I could hardly have imagined that I would get to collaborate on so many amazing projects.

“Selecting Dress of the Year 2020 will be a real challenge. The world has changed so dramatically in just one year and the fashion landscape along with it. It will certainly be a formidable task to choose an ensemble that embodies such a unique moment.”

Councillor Paul Crossley, cabinet member for Community Services at Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “We are delighted that Iain R Webb, who has been such a great supporter of the Fashion Museum over the years, has agreed to select the Dress of the Year 2020. We look forward to finding out what he has chosen when the Dress of the Year is revealed later this year. The outfit will go on display at the Fashion Museum when it reopens in March 2021.”

Rosemary Harden, Fashion Museum Manager, said: “Throughout his career Iain has continued to support and to advocate for the Fashion Museum. I can think of no one better suited to make the Dress of the Year selection for the Museum in 2020, surely one of the most challenging years in recent history.

“2020 is the year of Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter, as well as the continuing critical challenge of the climate emergency and sustainability. How has fashion responded to these issues that are shaping and defining our times? How has it joined the conversation, reflected these huge issues, or indeed changed its practise?

“I have no doubt that Iain’s selection of the Dress of the Year 2020 will prove an insightful and stimulating take on this extraordinary year.”

In 1998, Iain selected womenswear by Sonia Rykiel and menswear by Chris Bailey for Jigsaw as the Dress of the Year. Now, more than 20 years later, what will his selection be for 2020?

The Dress of the Year 2020 will be announced in December and will go on show at the Fashion Museum when it reopens on 29 March 2021.

The Dress of the Year Collection was launched in 1963 by Doris Langley Moore, founder of the Fashion Museum. Dress of the Year 1963, chosen by the Fashion Writers’ Association, was a grey wool dress and cream blouse by Mary Quant.

Other feted designers featured over the years include Ossie Clark, Kenzo Takada, Missoni, Calvin Klein, Miuccia Prada, Karl Lagerfeld (for Chloe and Chanel), Alexander McQueen, Tom Ford for Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche and Raf Simons for Dior.

The Dress of the Year 2019 was chosen by Donna Wallace, Fashion and Accessories Editor at British Vogue. She chose a pleated pink tulle dress by Giambattista Valli for H&M, famously worn by Kendall Jenner to the amfAR gala during Cannes Film Festival.

The full Dress of the Year collection can be viewed at www.fashionmuseum.co.uk/galleries/dress-year.