An exhibition inspired by a renowned north-east fashion designer has opened at the city’s art gallery.
Aberdeenshire-born designer Bill Gibb, whose creations were worn by stars such as Elizabeth Taylor and Bianca Jagger, is the focus of the new display.
The Bill Gibb Line by Aberdeen-based writer and performer Shane Strachan, 31, features film of a spoken word performance and eight poems written by the young creative.
Each poem is inspired by a different fashion show from Gibb’s illustrious and tumultuous career, from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s.
A farm boy turned designer, Gibb, was crowned Designer of the Year by Vogue in 1970 but died in 1988 aged 44, of cancer.
The exhibit showcases his original garments and drawings, displayed alongside new designs by students from Gray’s School of Art, inspired by the life and work of one of the fashion industry’s most talented and innovative designers.
Originally from Bill Gibb’s home town of Fraserburgh and educated at the same school, Shane has been inspired by his work from a young age and in 2018 he was awarded the Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship to pen a novel on the legendary designer.
He said: “The fellowship has kind of led to this because it gave me time to work on the poems and create them.
“Initially, I was going to write a novel but I moved into podcasts and doing something quite different.
“It just felt right that it was about performance and capturing the music and showmanship of Bill Gibb fashion shows.
“He got people dancing out on the stage and catwalks in ways they hadn’t done before, so for me to do the film and live performances and tell the story in that way has brought a lot more engagement.”
The writer, who holds a PhD in creative writing from Aberdeen University, presented his exhibition for the first time last year.
It was originally developed and produced by the Look Again Festival, which aims to shine a light on the creative talent in the north-east of Scotland and bring it to the public.
He said: A lot of people own his work, but not all of it is really on display and accessible.
“I wanted to do something about him for a while as a writer and a performer and Look Again commissioned me last year for their festival to co-create something that collaborates with the Gray’s students.”
Shane worked with film-maker Graeme Roger on a spoken word performance in which he wears new garments influenced by Gibb’s designs and created by fashion and textiles students now in their final year at Gray’s.
Kirstie Noble, 21, a fashion and textiles student at RGU said: “Shane came to the school of art when we were in third year and asked if we would like to do a collaboration with him.
“So our project was based on Bill Gibb and he read us poems and we visited the Bill Gibb archive.
“We had to base our semester projects on him so we all had to interpret him in our own way and make a garment out of it.”
All of Gibb’s designs are taken from the collections of Robert Gordon’s Art and Heritage Centre and Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums, which cares for the largest collection of his work.
The exhibition will run from today until May 24.
A podcast by Shane featuring all the poems alongside Gibb’s story will be launched during a one-day symposium called Fashion, Fantasy and Collaboration: the Legacy of Bill Gibb and will take place at the art gallery on Friday March 20.