Bexhill Museum’s 2019 Costume Gallery catwalk exhibition pays tribute to the Fabulous Fifties and Swinging Sixties with vibrant colours and bold imaginative designs.
Costume Group volunteers Georgina Bradley, Stella Hales-Morris and colleagues selected the garments from the museum’s extensive collection to produce a stunning display.
Rare examples include a dress made of a paper-derived fabric and designs by Mary Quant and Horrocks.
The display also includes the Saville-Row-tailored formal attire, complete with silver buckles and lace, of a High Sheriff, kindly loaned by former Hastings MP Michael Foster.
This is the 200th anniversary year of the birth of Queen Victoria and the mourning dress worn by the queen for the funeral of her grandson the Duke of Clarence in 1892 also has a special place in the display.
Speaking about some of the garments on display, Georgina said: “The 50’s style, yellow and white cotton summer dress, was kindly given to us by The Costume Store. It is home-sewn by hand and machine and is typical of its time with the chevroned bodice, belted waist and very full skirt. Many petticoats would have been worn underneath, some of them boned.
“The 60’style mauve mini dress is hand crochet, and fully lined. It is a firm favourite with many visitors.
“The Horrocks’ ladies dresses on display include a sundress of white cotton with black floral design print, contrasting red piped pockets and a wide red waist sash. Horrocks was one of the most respected ready-to-wear fashion labels of the very late Forties and Fifties. It concentrated on the production of quality women’s wear, beach clothes, housecoats and later children’s wear.
“Horrocks maintained an air of cotton exclusivity with emphasis on good quality fabrics, custom designed patterns by Eduardo Paolozzi and Graham Sutherland and fashion styling with Parisian Couture overtones.
“They were also worn by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and the Duchess of Kent on her state visit to Kenya.
“Also displayed is a ‘Paper Dress’. This is a very simple orange and green ‘op art’ shift dress, sleeveless with a round neck and an A-line mini-skirt. It is a recent important donation and the only one that we hold.
“These garments were made in a wide range of colours and styles, but it was a short-lived fashion novelty as often a potential buyer would tear the hemline to make sure that it really was paper! It was an American invention and produced by companies such as Hallmark and Scott Paper Comp.
“Paper fashion became popular with designers such as Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell and later by contemporary designers like Hussein Chalayan and Helmut Lang.
“The lasting legacy of the 1960’s paper fashions is found in the Dupont fabric TYVEK which is used for garments in hospitals today for its hygienically disposable properties and also museums for the care and conservation of its collections. We are proud to say that we use this fabric in our museum.”
Bexhill Museum, Egerton Road offers something for everyone from local history and archaeology to fashion and Bexhill’s motor heritage. It is open daily.
Visit: www. .bexhillmuseum.co.uk