Following the decant of our permanent display of fashion and textiles, to make way for Shoes: Pleasure and Pain, we set aside a selection of 20th century womenswear and accessories which we’re loaning to The Garden Rooms at Tennants Auctioneers in Leyburn until 13 September. Last week we drove up hill and down dale to Leyburn where we began installing the mini exhibition.
After assembling the mannequins and condition checking of all objects, we installed 21 items in total including our Victor Stiebel wedding dress from 1952, a pair of printed silk and leather shoes from 1925 and a summer outfit from 1912 with Irish crochet detailing on the collar and cuffs.
A very exceptional dress attributed to Elsa Schiaparelli, Italian fashion designer prominent in Paris during the interwar period, is also on display. In 1931 Vogue coined the phrase ‘poured in’ to describe the fit of this sheath dress, the long bias-cut panels cling to the natural curves of the body, which, for the first time was the fashionable shape. The skilful cut and inventive serpent-like design are reminiscent of Schiaparelli’s work.
The dress collection at The Bowes Museum has been acquired since the Museum opened, mainly through gifts from local donors. It represents women’s, children’s and men’s clothing and accessories from the late 18th century to the 1960s. It includes particularly strong examples of women’s dresses from the 1860s and 1870s and examples of 20th century haute couture. The display at Tennants is small but gives an overview of the range of 20th century womenswear items we have on show at the Museum; giving the viewer a mini taster of our gallery. Objects are on show until 18 September 2016.
Other ongoing loans from the fashion and textile department include 4 underwear objects in Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear at Victoria and Albert Museum,London until 17 March 2016 and examples of lace lappets and sleeve ruffles at Kensington Palace until late August 2016.
Hannah Jackson, Assistant Curator (Fashion & Textiles)