Fashion & Freedom

Manchester Art Gallery


BA Hons Fashion Concepts and Communications

Creative direction and styling:
Beth Blears
Creative direction and styling:
Beth Cowling
Creative direction and garment designer:
Ben Lewis
Karl Spencer
Nicole Thompson
Corset courtesy of


“Photographing in a studio environment allowed us to create a set and develop a modern interpretation of Restriction. Our choice of camera angles created a strong female identity as a contrast to repression.”

Blears, Cowling and Lewis were informed by research into Edwardian dress silhouettes, foundation garments and social codes for fashion during the First World War. The full length black gown of heavy velvet emphasises Restriction, inactivity and confinement. Classic horror films and imagery of early deep-sea diving helmets inspired the design of the neck piece – a symbol of the lack of female voices in society and politics prior to women’s suffrage.

Beth Blears, Beth Cowling, Ben Lewis
Restriction 2016. Photography: Layla Sailor

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