Phoenix Collection Outfits
20 April - 10 September 2023
We're celebrating Eurovision with our latest display of outfits from the ground-breaking show ABBA Voyage. Floating with elegance and vintage glam, the Phoenix Collection outfits were designed by acclaimed Swedish designer B. Åkerlund in collaboration with Manish Arora.
The 1974 Swedish entry, ABBA, notably won The Eurovision Song Contest with their song Waterloo. The group was formed by Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. The group's name is an acronym of the first letters of their first names arranged as a palindrome. Surprisingly, the UK awarded zero points for the ABBA entry in 1974 but since the supergroup won over the hearts and minds of the country, becoming a national treasure. So much so, ABBA Voyage chose the UK as its home building a custom performance space, The ABBA Arena.
"Jaw-dropping, ground-breaking, phenomenal" are just a few quotes from fans describing ABBA Voyage, the first live show of its kind. 40 years in the making, Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid have created the kind of concert they always wanted, performing for their fans at their very best: as digital versions of themselves backed by today’s finest musicians. Blurring the lines between the physical and digital, the magic of ABBA is brought to life using the latest technology.
The Costume Designer for ABBA Voyage was the acclaimed Swedish designer and “Fashion Activist” B. Åkerlund, best known for her iconic work with legendary artists including Madonna, Lady Gaga and Beyonce. B collaborated with leading designers and studios from the worlds of fashion and entertainment including Dolce & Gabbana, Manish Arora, Erevos Aether and Michael Schmidt, to create looks for the band. Having been sketched and approved by the band, all costumes were then built as real outfits.
Costume designer B. Åkerlund said: “The Phoenix Look was created to represent ABBA's limitless ability to transform and rebirth themselves in the world of Music. I dove deep into their archive to take inspiration from their past costuming, particularly their infamous Cat Looks. With that in mind, I wanted to approach these looks with a new metaphor, one that represents metamorphosis, and the phoenix was the perfect vessel to carry that idea forward. Each Garment was handcrafted and beaded with thousands of Swarovski crystals, all of which took months to complete.”
The symbolism of the outfits going on display at the British Music Experience captures and embodies the reinvigoration of ABBA’s music as this new form of live show. Each item designed by Indian designer, Manish Arora features hand sewn sequins of gold and vibrant colours, gems, iridescent hearts and gold laser cut leatherette feathers. Winged sleeves and caped jumpsuits allow for flashes of colour and bursts of movement on stage as the audience is astounded by the rebirth of group. The outfits show the group as a mythical phoenix rising up as its next incarnation, ABBA Voyage.
The concert’s producers Svana Gisla and Ludvig Andersson said “Rather than recreating a “nostalgic” 1970s look for ABBA Voyage, our vision, along with director Baillie Walsh, was to dress the band as the contemporary pop stars they are. Our designer B. Åkerlund was the perfect collaborator for this project, bringing together styles ranging from high fashion to fantasy.”
This will be the first time the outfits have gone on public display. As well as the Phoenix Collection at the British Music Experience, The ABBA Museum in Stockholm will also feature costumes designed by Dolce Gabbana and Michael Schmidt.