A History of Fashion in 100 Objects

gloves, fashion museum, bath
1680s to 1690s Women’s gloves from the Spence Collection Credit: Glove Collection Trust

New exhibit at Bath’s Fashion Museum celebrates our finest attire from the 1500s to the present day.

Bath, Fashion museum
Woman’s embroidered waistcoat from about 1610. Black and red wool crepe appliqué suit jacket with black sequins from about 1947 by Lucien Lelong, Paris. Worn by Vivien Leigh Credit: Fashion Museum Bath

Bath’s Fashion Museum is set to unveil A History of Fashion in 100 Objects this March, a major new exhibition celebrating fashion from the 1500s to the present day.

Running until January 1, 2018, this headline exhibit showcases 100 star objects drawn from the museum’s word-class collection and will feature the garments and fashion accessories that defined historical eras and hit the headlines.

One of the earliest fashion garments to go on display is an intricately embroidered woman’s jacket – known at the time as a waistcoat – worked in coloured silks and glittering metal thread and dating from the time of Shakespeare.

Bath, fashion museum

1930s’ woven silk shoe, with gold leather trim and diamante clip. Hellstern and Sons, Paris. Worn by Lady Ward Credit: Fashion Museum Bath

Fast forward more than 300 years, and visitors to the exhibition will also be able to see another embroidered jacket, this time from 1948, by Paris couturier Lucien Lelong and worn by major film star Gone with the Wind actress Vivien Leigh.

Big names of fashion history are featured and visitors will be able to see gowns by the first fashion designers in history, including the Houses of Worth and Lucile, through to names that are more familiar today, such as Christian Dior and McQueen.

The House of Worth in Paris was the ‘go-to’ designer in the 1890s, and the exhibition will present a grey silk gown worn by Mary Chamberlain, an American by birth and wife of British politician Joseph Chamberlain.

gloves, fashion museum, bath
1680s to 1690s: Women’s gloves from the Spence Collection Credit: Glove Collection Trust

British designer Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon (1863-1935), was one of the first women fashion designers, an astute business woman and also a Titanic survivor. A History of Fashion in 100 Objects will feature a Lucile embroidered silk chiffon wedding dress worn by Mabel Chappell on her wedding to Robert Fuller in 1907.

Christian Dior (1905-1957) is one of the most famous fashion designers in history; the work of this master couturier is represented in an original New Look suit  from 1947, worn by British ballerina Margot Fonteyn.

Fans, bath, Fashion museum
1730s’ fans with carved and painted ivory sticks from the Watkins Collection: Peter J Stone/Fashion Museum Bath

Also on display will be 10 ‘shoe moments’ from history – from Georgian silk shoes to Air Jordan trainers and exhibition will also include four collections of exquisite accessories to dress – gloves, fans, and jewellery – amassed variously by an artist, an expert collector, and passionate enthusiasts, all of whom have directly or indirectly gifted or loaned their collections to the Fashion Museum.

This includes, from the 1600s, the collection of historic gloves collected by artist Robert Spence is now owned by the Glove Collection Trust and loaned to the Fashion Museum through the generosity and support of the Worshipful Company of Glovers of London, one of the City of London’s ancient livery companies.

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