Exhibiting women’s fashions from the 1950s, Age of Glamour will open the now extensively refurbished Fashion Galleries at Lotherton Hall. This new, 21st century gallery space includes modern cases, improved lighting and new interactive technology, allowing the addition of film and sound elements.
This ground-breaking exhibition showcases a range of rare items: the acclaimed ‘Ecarlate’, red cocktail dress from Dior’s La Ligne Y collection of 1955; Ball Gown, by Cristóbal Balenciaga, 1951; luxury ready-to-wear dresses from British designer labels such as Frank Usher, Susan Small and Horrockses; and collections from the M&S archive.
There are also more novelty exhibits, such as a blue wedding dress bought in 1953, chosen so the wearer could also enjoy the dress after her big day; a family trail ‘From Paris to Leeds’ which allows visitors to become a 1950s fashion buyer create their own collection for the Leeds department store, Marshall & Snelgrove; audio pieces which broadcast public memories of shopping in Leeds in the 1950s; and the opportunity for visitors to try on period garments.
The exhibition examines the post-war period during which fashion delighted in a return to elegance, yet also when ready-to-wear came to prominence. French couture led the way in determining the archetypal fifties style, however the glamour of Paris was then recreated at every level – from exclusive labels sold in department stores, to homemade reconstructions.
Stores such as Marks & Spencer, Marshall & Snelgrove, Schofields and Lewis’ all brought the Parisian style (if a watered down version) to the high street, and this exhibition is particularly fascinating in showing this fashion style in the context of Leeds and Yorkshire – how the population strived to have this level of glamour hanging in their own wardrobes following the austerity of the war years.
Age of Glamour, Fashion from the Fifties: International Haute Couture to Extra-Ordinary Every Day, 8 May – 31 December, Lotherton Hall, Aberford, Leeds LS25 3EB. For more information visit www.leeds.gov.uk
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1. Ball Gown, by Cristóbal Balenciaga, 1951.