British Fashion Week comes to the British Library

Sophie Sabin, Business Support Officer with the Culture & Learning and Higher Education teams, unexpectedly featured in Nabil's fashion show. Photo taken by Natasha Naidoo

On Tuesday 18 September, British-Syrian designer Nabil Nayal became the first designer to showcase a collection at the British Library during London Fashion Week.

Published date:

Having undertaken a doctorate in Elizabethan dress, Nabil felt passionately about emphasising the importance of the research through the collection itself.

Images from Elizabeth I’s funeral procession, along with hymn sheets, speeches and maps were incorporated into the collection through digital printing. The event triggered coverage from a variety of publications including Vogue.

The British Library’s collections holds over 200 million items, from manuscripts and maps to photography and printed materials. Through our new Fashion web resource and in collaboration with the British Fashion Council and its Council of Colleges, the Library is aiming to inspire fashion design students to use its uniquely diverse and historical collections in surprising and unexpected ways.

To support this, the British Library will be launching a fashion design competition this autumn in collaboration with Nabil and the British Fashion Council. The competition will be mentored and judged by Nabil, who will host a Fashion Masterclass for fashion students in the Library as part of the process.

Watch this space for further details!

Case studies

…My concept was a fashion collection which focused on expressing the beauty of imperfection, lived experience and individuality through textiles.…

Alanna Hilton was the winner of a competition run by the British Fashion Council in collaboration with the British Library and fashion house Teatum Jones to create a fashion portfolio telling a story inspired by the British Library’s collections.

…Elisabeth Nilsson came to the British Library to research prototypes for her autumn/winter Once Upon a Time fashion range, during her final year of a Fashion BA at the University of the Creative Arts in Epsom.…

Elisabeth Nilsson came to the British Library as part of her research for a competition to create a fashion portfolio telling a story inspired by the Library’s collections.