A model walks down the catwalk in the National Museums Scotland commission at London Fashion Week (February 2020). © VIN   OMI

National Museums Scotland unveils new commission: a dress by fashion designers and activists VIN + OMI made of materials from The King’s estate

National Museums Scotland has unveiled a new commission for the National Collection; a dress by fashion designers and climate activists VIN + OMI which incorporates nettles and horsehair sourced from Highgrove, the private residence of The King and Queen. It will go on display in Beyond the Little Black Dress at the National Museum of Scotland from 1 July, after which it will enter the permanent collection. 

Press images available here.

This bold design was created for VIN + OMI’s Autumn Winter 2020 collection. Emblazoned with the word ‘RESIST’, the streetwear-inspired look defies the expectations of the classic ‘little black dress’ whilst its materials and construction set a gold standard for sustainable production. The design team calculate the exact energy used in the production of their garments, down to the number of calories burned. 

Georgina Ripley, Principal Curator of Modern and Contemporary Design at National Museums Scotland said: 

“We are delighted to have commissioned this striking piece for the National Collection, and we look forward to revealing it to visitors in Beyond the Little Black Dress. Fashion is one of the most energy-consuming, polluting, and wasteful of modern industries. In response, contemporary designers are seeking more sustainable solutions, like this nature-led approach from VIN + OMI. Their 'LBD' challenges us to resist the mainstream and place the environment at the forefront of our fashion choices.” 

Beyond the Little Black Dress, which is sponsored by Baillie Gifford Investment Managers, deconstructs an iconic wardrobe staple, examining the radical power of the colour black in fashion. From design classics to cutting-edge catwalk creations, the exhibition brings together more than 60 striking looks from collections and designers around the world.  

The commission by VIN + OMI is one of the garments on display in an area of the exhibition exploring design responses to the climate crisis, and how new technologies can assist in reducing the fashion industry’s impact on the environment. 

VIN + OMI are award-winning fashion and multimedia designers with studios throughout the UK. They began their collaboration with The King in 2019 as part of a project to creatively explore the waste output of the Highgrove Estate.   

At The King’s suggestion, they initially collected waste nettles from the grounds of the estate to see how they might be utilised. They then developed a new-to-market nettle textile produced via innovative methods of fibre bonding and plant preparation. They went on to develop unique textiles and materials from Highgrove’s willow cuttings, cow parsley, plastic plant pots, horsehair and other organic materials.  

VIN + OMI said:

For the last 20 years we have purposely set out to avoid being part of the fashion machine that contributes to the demise of the planet.  

We do not retail our clothing and are much more excited about experimentation, teaching and challenging. Our dress for National Museums Scotland shows what can happen with the waste from UK estates. These estates produce a large amount of plant and other waste.  

We have collaborated with King Charles for four years and his open-minded, eco, approach to running his estates makes a collaboration like this possible. National Museums Scotland is the perfect final home for this work – the alternatives to fast fashion must be constantly explored. 

Housing our work here helps future generations learn ways of naturally producing garments that do minimal damage to our planet.” 

Beyond the Little Black Dress is curated by Georgina Ripley, Principal Curator, Modern and Contemporary Design, National Museums Scotland, Dr Sequoia Barnes, Guest Curator and Carys Wilkins, Assistant Curator, Modern and Contemporary Design, National Museums Scotland. It will be accompanied by a programme of events.   

The accompanying book Little Black Dress: A Radical Fashion edited by Georgina Ripley, £30.00, is published by NMS Enterprises Ltd – Publishing. 

Beyond the Little Black Dress is part of Edinburgh Art Festival, taking place between 11–27 August 2023.  




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Notes to editors

Notes to Editors:  

  1. VIN + OMI are award winning, multimedia designers and consultants who work internationally.  Their work flows across many genres with sustainability at the core. Focusing on sustainable approaches to business, design and textiles through eco innovations and social impacts makes VIN + OMI the leading pioneering eco design brand today.  
    They are previous recipients of a NESTA award for innovation in design, research and their unique business model. They work towards pioneering new processes and programmes that they introduce into their work. They were one of the first companies to use a detailed carbon offset programme, which they still use today.  
    A large part of their work is focussed on social impact projects, eco innovation, environmental impact and research and development. This work ties into their textile and product development work and underpins their consultancy work. 
    Discover more on www.vinandomi.com.  
  1. National Museums Scotland is one of the leading museum groups in the UK and Europe and it looks after collections of national and international importance. The organisation provides loans, partnerships, research and training in Scotland and internationally. Our individual museums are the National Museum of Scotland, the National Museum of Flight, the National Museum of Rural Life and the National War Museum. The National Museums Collection Centre in Edinburgh houses conservation and research facilities as well as collections not currently on display.   
    Twitter: @NtlMuseumsScot    
    Facebook: www.facebook.com/NationalMuseumsScotland   
    Instagram: @NationalMuseumsScotland    
    Exhibition hashtag: #BeyondLBD 
  1. National Museums Scotland’s internationally significant fashion and textiles collection comprises around 50,000 objects and is one of the largest in the UK. The collection includes textiles dating back to the 14th century and clothing and accessories dating from the 16th century to the present day. Beyond the Little Black Dress follows the acclaimed exhibition Body Beautiful: Diversity on the Catwalk. 
  1. Bheireadh Oifis nam Meadhanan eadar-theangachadh Gàidhlig den bhrath-naidheachd seachad do bhuidhinn mheadhanan bharantaichte. Cuiribh fios do dh'Oifis nam Meadhanan airson bruidhinn air cinn-latha freagarrach.