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The Fashion and Textile Museum is in the Bermondsey Village area of South London. This museum includes both permanent and temporary exhibits that focus on fashion design, jewelry, and textiles. The building features a quirky design with a hard-to-miss exterior, as well as unique design elements both inside and out. While the museum was originally founded as a place to display various fashions, its focus has changed to include a strong educational element. As of 2006, the it has been owned and operated by Newham College.
In 2003, British artist Zandra Rhodes came up with the concept for the Fashion and Textile Museum. She collaborated with Mexican architect Ricardo Legoretta to design the building's unique facade. Legoretta created a brightly-colored exterior, characterized by shades of orange and hot pink that help the building stand out among its neighbors. Rhodes filled the museum with her own fashion creations, along with work by many other modern designers. By 2006, Zandra Rhodes decided to sell the museum to the nearby Newham College.
As part of the sale, Rhodes donated many of her original works and patterns to the college. She also agreed to stay on as a creative adviser. The museum was closed in 2006 as the college completed a renovation, and reopened to the public in late 2008. While it still includes large exhibit areas, it also incorporates an extensive academic program run by Newham College. This program is designed to educate students in fashion, design, and the arts.
Exhibits at the Fashion and Textile Museum often focus on great works by a well-known designer, or the fashion style of a celebrity or icon. These displays can also be based around fashion and jewelry from a historic period, such as the 1960s, or even certain types of fabrics or pieces. Some of the most popular exhibitions have focused on the little black dress, Swedish fashion, and fashion for men.
Visitors are required to pay a small admission fee, which is used to fund operations and academic programs. The museum also houses a cafe and store, which anyone can visit without paying admission. The museum store sells jewelry and fashions by local designers, allowing visitors an opportunity to purchase cutting-edge pieces that can't be found anywhere else.