Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Dedicated Followers of Fashion

Bath has been synonymous with the display and retail of fashionable dress from the 18th century right up to the present day and the Fashion Museum which is in the basement of the historical and grand Assembly Rooms, houses a world class collection of historical dress and couture clothing from the 17th century. Often the museum has special exhibits which focus on a particular designer or fashion, or mode of dress. I absolutely LOVE examining and being inspired by these beautiful clothes, even if it is through a sheet of glass (which makes it very hard to photograph!)

So this is my very favourite dress in the collection.

It's by Alexander McQueen and has quite a 'fetish' influence. It is a lace dress with leather yoke and collar. I just like the shape and concept of it.

This dress is by an unknown designer, but I love the way the corsetted bodice extends down into the skirt and is held together by ruched panels. This give me lots of inspiration.

This is underwear from the 60's, complete with bullet bra. You can get retro style bullet bra's from here.

Now this is what I call a dress

And this stripey dress based on historical designs, is from Vivienne Westwood's 1999 'Ready to Wear' collection. It has a built in corset, as you might expect.

This beautiful creation, which hasn't photographed very well, was worn by Margot Fonteyn in 1949. It was designed by Bianca Mosca and comprises a bodice, skirt and tiered overskirt.

This pink silk dress is from The House of Worth. I find it endlessly fascinating that Charles Worth, generally acknowledged as the 'father of Haute Couture', was infact an Englishman. Although there were other "couturiers" of the time, it was Worth's agressive self promotion that led him to fame and fortune, and I don't think things have changed much today! This dress is by his son, Jean-Phillipe, and was made around 1900 for a lady who lived in India.

It is thought that the lady commissioned the embroidered fabric in India, wishing to support local artisans, and then had the dress designed and made up in Paris.

There was a day in the 1740's, when ladies actually wanted their bums to look big in this. Do you think they competed to see who the widest dress? How did they get through doorways? I think at one stage doors were built bigger, but this idea was soon abandoned! The ladies wore basket-like contraptions or "paniers" made of wicker, underneath the skirts of these dresses. Nothing like dressing for comfort, dont you think? This dress amuses me greatly. I'm thinking the big paniers, big bling!

This style of dress was called a 'sack back' dress , defined by the two box pleats falling from the shoulders at the back. This dress went through several 'phases' of fashion. In the early 1700's it was a loose informal garment, then it became a fashionable day dress and by the 1760's it was a style which was only worn at court.

There were corsets which I photographed, but not well enough - the pictures turned out dark and no amount of tweaking could put them right. So here are some corsetty dresses.

While I was looking at one particular dress, imagining it's wearer to be an extremely short and very stout woman, I heard a scratching noise behind me .... I looked round, and discovered Mr Marmalade busying himself at the kids activity table ...

drawing a picture of .... Wonderwoman (!)


The dress I was looking at, belonged to Queen Victoria. It was her mourning dress.

And no fashion collection would be complete without bags and shoes now would it!


Kitty said...

Lovely photos ... thanks for sharing! x

Gina said...

What fabulous dresses. I love the pic of Mr Marmalade at the kid's table!

Jo Power said...

Love the photo's of the dresses. Was it like shopping for Mr Marmalade so he had to find other ways to amuse himself. That made me laugh thank you. xx

Billie Jane said...

OMG my heart is beating faster just at the sight of these beautiful gowns...... and the shoes!!!!! and the bags!!!!! What inspiration!! Brilliant piccys... love it love it love it!!!! x

Taz said...

Great photos. Got to love the picture of Mr Marmalade amusing himself LOL
I actually wouldn't need one of those dresses to make my bum look big, it does it all by itself ;)

Anonymous said...

I have changed my mind - I want my spotty dress to have panniers under it! What do you think?!!!

Hmmmmm wonderwoman... how random! But he may have just solved my problem of what to dress up as for a certain Hen Do approaching in June......... (The theme is "strong or super hero women"

driftwood said...

what wonderful dresses! especially wonder womans!

jennyflower said...

Thanks for bringing so many fond memories of a pre-kids trip we had in Bath which was just amazing. I don't remember how Simon amused himself in the museum, probably dribbling on the underwear! xx

Indigo Blue said...

Honestly I could look at displays like this ALL DAY! I loved visitignt eh V and A as well. It has been ages since I visited bath so I think another visit is due. Thank you for taking so many pictures on a topic that I really enjoy. I had toyed with the idea of doing a theatre costume course but instead did fashion.

SueC said...

Gorgeous!! I love that black Worth dress. I want to try them all on actually.....