In a remarkable twist of fate, a tie discovered in a thrift shop for just 99p has now become a highlight of a prestigious fashion exhibit at the Museum of London Docklands. This unique piece, a creation by the renowned designer Michael Fish, was found by Janneke van der Wal, a dedicated thrift shop aficionado. The tie, characterized by its broad “Kipper tie” design, a signature of Fish, is celebrated for its bold width and vibrant hues.

Janneke, 65, stumbled upon this fashion relic in an AgeUK store in Southampton. Initially drawn to it by its striking appearance and reminiscence of the 1970s’ flair, she acquired it despite having no practical use for it in mind. Curiosity piqued by the tie’s distinctive Mr Fish label, Janneke researched its origins online. Realizing its potential historical value, she reached out to the museum, offering it as a donation.

The tie’s donation has thrilled museum visitors and staff alike, marking a significant addition to the Fashion City exhibition. This display shines a spotlight on the influential Jewish designers, including Fish, who played pivotal roles in London’s fashion evolution. Michael Fish, notorious for challenging traditional gender norms in clothing and introducing vibrant, luxurious fabrics, left an indelible mark on the fashion world. His designs were embraced by celebrities of the era, such as Mick Jagger, Michael Caine, Muhammad Ali, and even adorned David Bowie on the album cover of “The Man Who Sold the World.”

The Fashion City exhibition, which narrates the contributions of Jewish designers, makers, and retailers in shaping London’s fashion legacy, features the tie as a prime example of the treasures that can be found in second-hand shopping. The exhibition also showcases other notable finds like an Alexon coat associated with EastEnders’ Dot Cotton and a leopard-print hat by the celebrated milliner Otto Lucas, signaling the rich history and interconnectedness of fashion and second-hand finds.

Lucie Whitmore, the exhibition’s curator, expressed her excitement over the inclusion of such iconic items, highlighting the special connection between Jewish craftsmanship and the tradition of second-hand fashion. This exhibit not only celebrates London’s fashion history but also underscores the unexpected journeys of vintage pieces from humble beginnings to museum showcases. The Fashion City exhibition, which runs until April, offers a unique lens through which to view the impact of Jewish Londoners on the global fashion scene, making it a must-visit for fashion enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

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