Björk’s Iconic Swan Dress, Which Once Stole the Oscar Red Carpet, Will Headline a London Show of Bold Fashion Designs

The dress, which laid an egg at the Academy Awards, is the centerpiece of 'Rebel' at London's Design Museum.

Björk at the 73rd Academy Awards in Los Angeles in March 2001, wearing the swan dress by K-T-Z. Photo: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images.

The swan dress that Björk wore to the 2001 Oscars was exquisitely provocative, even by the musician’s standards, particularly when a large egg tumbled out of it. Controversial at first, the design has now entered the pantheon of great red-carpet moments. 

Made by the U.K.-based Macedonian designer Marjan Pejoski for the label K-T-Z, the dress is the headlining piece of the exhibition “Rebel: 30 Years of London Fashion,” set to open September 16 at the Design Museum in London.

Sponsored by the British brand Alexander McQueen—whose namesake shook up the museum scene in 2011 with his blockbuster “Savage Beauty” retrospective, first at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum, then at the Victoria & Albert Museum—the show features nearly 100 daring looks from the debut or early collections of young designers.

Sam Smith at the 43rd BRIT Awards 2023. Photo: LANDMARK MEDIA/Alamy Stock Photo

Sam Smith at the 43rd BRIT Awards 2023 in a latex look by HARRI. Photo: LANDMARK MEDIA/Alamy Stock Photo.

Other eye-popping pieces in the show include a replica of Sam Smith’s inflatable latex suit—designed by HARRI’s Harikrishnan Keezhathil Surendran Pillai, son of a latex farmer in India—that they wore to the BRIT Awards, as well asHarry Styles’s Steven Stokey Daley outfit from his “Golden” music video, the upcycled Union Jack jacket by Russell Sage that Kate Moss wore for British Vogue, and a sprawling Molly Goddard ruffle dress that went viral when Rihanna sported it.

The exhibition is a collaboration between the Design Museum and the British Fashion Council (BFC) to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the BFC’s NEWGEN program, according to a statement. All the designers in the show were supported by NEWGEN in their early career.

The swan dress was first unveiled at Pejoski’s NEWGEN runway show in London for fall/winter 2001, where it was spotted by the Icelandic singer, who nabbed it and, in addition to the Oscars, wore it on the cover of her Vespertine album. The now-iconic dress has only been publicly displayed twice before—both times in New York. Its inclusion in “Rebel” marks the first time it has been seen in the U.K., and in the city where it was designed and created.

Model Fran Summers wearing Matty Bovan from Spring/Summer 2019, with a hat Stephen Jones. Photo: Rebecca Maynes.

Model Fran Summers wearing Matty Bovan from Spring/Summer 2019, with a hat Stephen Jones. Photo: Rebecca Maynes.

The exhibition is organized into three parts: Art School, which shows how London’s art education system—including the world-renowned Central Saint Martins university—has incubated individuality; Backstage Pass, where visitors can relive the frenetic moments just before a fashion show; and Runway, where visitors can join the front row to witness six catwalk shows.

“Visitors are going to be stunned by many of the instantly recognizable fashion items on show,” said Tim Marlow, the Design Museum Director and CEO, “but we hope they’ll also be captivated by the breadth, depth, diversity, and world-class talent that has emerged from the London fashion scene in the past three decades.”

 

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