Floating with elegance and vintage glam, ABBA Voyage lend their hand-made ‘Phoenix Collection’ of outfits to go on public display at the British Music Experience as part of the Museum’s celebration of the Eurovision Song Contest 2023.
Liverpool is set to host the 67th edition of the song contest culminating with the final on 13 May 2023.
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 designed by Manish Arora at the British Music Experience, The ABBA Museum in Stockholm will also feature costumes designed by Dolce Gabbana and Michael Schmidt.
Chair of the British Music Experience Trustees, Harvey Goldsmith CBE, commented:
“We are thrilled to put the ABBA Voyage Phoenix Collection of display to run alongside our Eurovision celebrations and across the summer. We use iconic stage-worn outfits to tell stories of moments in the history of popular music. While we all know ABBA are not British, they may as well be. Their music is ingrained in the national psyche and with ABBA Voyage landing in London we know the feeling is reciprocated. ABBA Voyage is ground-breaking. These outfits symbolise the truly remarkable creative vision of the group and we can’t wait to give our visitors a little glimpse of the show.”
Head of UNESCO City of Music for Liverpool, Kevin McManus, commented:
“ABBA Voyage is the first of it kind and these outfits tell such an interesting story. This is great news for Liverpool, and for all the Eurovision fans that will be in the city in the build-up to the final. It is fabulous for the Museum to be able to display these incredible outfits. The British Music Experience is our Museum of Popular Music and I think it’s safe to say ABBA has achieved enormous popularity with such unrelenting success in the UK across 40 years.”
ABBA Voyage outfits will go on display at the British Music Experience and they will be in excellent company as the Museum charts the history of rock and pop music from 1945 to present day through instruments and stage outfits worn by some of the UK’s most popular artists. Eurovision successes such as Lulu, Sandie Shaw and Bucks Fizz are represented already in the archive and the collection as well as all the heritage greats such as David Bowie, Queen and Elton John.
The British Music Experience has a planned season of activity scheduled to celebrate Eurovision in Liverpool and beyond. The content will feature Eurovision related stage outfits such as Sam Ryder’s epic jumpsuit from last year’s final, an interactive archive display allowing visitors to delve deep into the history of the song contest and stage shows of related content. There will be a supporting public event programme including a VIP screening of the Eurovision grand finale, a Eurovision Quiz and panel discussions with past contestants. BME is also launching its new education workshop entitled Euro-Pop Culture which examines social and political changes over the past 6 decades concluding with the war in Ukraine.
The British Music Experience is in The Cunard Building, the middle of the Three Graces on the Mersey in the heart of the planned Eurovision village.
ABBA Voyage Outfits will be on display through 31 August 2023.
All general entry tickets purchased are valid for 12 months and each eligible visitor has the opportunity to support the Museum by Gift Aiding the cost of admission.
To purchase general entry tickets, go to www.britishmusicexperience.com