A glimpse of paradise

Copyright Ben Robinson, Oxford Fashion Week
Copyright Ben Robinson, Oxford Fashion Week

We host hundreds of events a year at the Museum; everything from specialist lectures to family friendly activities. But coming up in November we’ve got a real first – a fashion show right here in the middle of the Museum. Oxford Fashion Week will be hosting their headline event here on Saturday 8 November. Birds of Paradise will be the climax to the week of shows and has been inspired by the spectacular Birds of Paradise in the Museum’s collection.

Hannah Zainnudin
Hannah Zainnudin

Earlier this year, Oxford University student Hannah Zainuddin approached the Oxford Fashion Week team with her exciting proposal. As a Biology student, evolution is at the heart of her studies and she’s particularly interested in the behaviour of Birds of Paradise, as an example of sexual selection at its most flamboyant. But Hannah’s interest isn’t purely biological. She is excited by the overlap between art and science and wants to use fashion as opportunity to blend the creative and academic elements of Oxford.

I hope people will realise that fashion isn’t just superficial.

Hannah is currently a finalist at St Catherine’s College, Oxford and will be juggling her studies with the role of Creative Director for the Birds of Paradise show.

CraspedophoraKeulemans cropShe’s sourced exciting, original looks by cutting edge professional designers. Watch out for explorations of iridescence, dramatic colour combinations and textures that mirror the display techniques used by the flamboyant birds. Changes in the volume of models’ outfits will also reflect the impressive puffed up feathers that male birds use in their dances.

To set the scene and whet the appetite for the show, the Fashion Week team came in to capture some publicity shots. The results give us a glimpse of the dramatic impact we’ll see on the night with striking models, breathtaking outfits and a unique setting.

Copyright Ben Robinson, OFW
Copyright Ben Robinson, OFW
Copyright Julia Cleaver, OFW
Copyright Julia Cleaver, OFW

The model in all these fabulous shots is Tiffany Saunders who, as well as being a professional model, is the Assistant Director of Oxford Fashion Week.

Her enthusiasm for the museum as a set for the shoot and as a venue for the show was obvious as we scouted out the perfect locations in the galleries. Although she’s been modelling since she was four years old and has worked in countless interesting venues, she says that using the Museum as her framework was a very different experience;

I felt in awe of my surroundings in a way that I’m not used to. Every angle, every shot, every corner of the Museum presented an image of wonder and uniqueness. It was an honour to have been amongst such outstanding surroundings.

Tiffany also explained why she and Oxford Fashion Week director Carl Anglim are so excited about the show:

We have wanted to do an event at the museum for a while because it is so unique and iconic. Part of what sets Oxford Fashion Week apart from other fashion weeks is the cultural heritage the city has to offer, so we always like to use venues that display this supreme asset. Headlining at the museum is something the whole team are particularly excited about. It is a world class venue and will be an incredible highlight of Oxford Fashion Week.

Copyright Julia Cleaver, OFW
Copyright Julia Cleaver, OFW

In another first for the team, they will also be holding a double-bill at the Museum on Friday 7 November. Independent Collections will kick off the evening at 6pm, followed by Couture at 7.30pm. Three brilliant shows in 24 hours.

If you’d like to join us for either of these nights, tickets are available through the Oxford Fashion Week website.

Rachel Parle, Interpretation and Education Officer

Published by

More than a Dodo

I'm Public Engagement Manager at Oxford University Museum of Natural History and I look after permanent displays and other interpretation. I do a bit of social media on the side, too.

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