50 Fabulous Frocks

Visit the Bath Fashion Museum for a wonderful exhibition – 50 Fabulous Frocks – to celebrate the museum’s 50th anniversary. The Fashion Museum houses one of the world’s great museum collections of historic and fashionable dress. The museum has been designated as a collection of outstanding national significance and was recently listed as one of the world’s top 10 fashion museums by CNN.

The exhibition will include the iconic and influential names of 20th century couture – Schiaparelli, Poiret, Vionnet, Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent – as well as some of today’s most desired fashion designers and brands.

Two years in the making and with between eighty and one hundred thousand objects housed in the museum, it must have been difficult to choose only 50 of the Fashion Museum’s collection as each has its own story to tell in the history of fashion. Rosemary Harden the Museum Manager said “There were some show-stoppers to be included right from the start: but other pieces came, and then went, and then came back again.  Some of the pieces in the show illustrate a personal wardrobe moment, while others mark an iconic moment in fashion history.”

The exhibition wouldn’t be complete without their oldest dress  – dating back to 1660.  (All photos: Fashion Museum, Bath & North East Somerset Council)

The dress (bodice and skirt) is of silver tissue trimmed with cream parchment lace, c1660.

And this amazing Champagne Bottle Dress – the hat is the cork – Brilliant!

Champagne bottle dress worn by an unknown lady at a fancy dress party in 1902
Champagne bottle dress worn by an unknown lady at a fancy dress party in 1902

And one of the most important designers of the 1930s Elsa Schiaparelli –  known for her trompe-l’oeil, amazing buttons, jewellery, her experiments with surrealism and collaborations with the likes of Salvador Dali.

Bug jacket and dress by Schiaparelli, London 1938

Paul Poiret who in early 1900’s simplified the female silhouette, rejecting the corset and other constricting garments for a more flowing line.

Gold lattice work and lace dress by Paul Poiret, 1925

More modern pieces include Alexander McQueen, Comme des Garcons, Erdem, Burberry and John Rocha.

White cotton lace dress and moulded leather collar – Alexander McQueen – 1999 spring/summer collection

Don’t want to spoil your visit by showing you all the photos but also in the exhibition will be a black and white ostrich feather and rhinestone two-piece ensemble by Yves Saint Laurent that belonged to prima ballerina Margot Fonteyn which she wore to a party with Rudolf Nureyev on the dance floor of a New York nightclub in the 1960s. Also a stunning Ossie Clark red and black crepe long dress from 1971; this is the same style of dress as worn by Ossie Clark’s wife Celia Birtwell in the David Hockney painting Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy, one of Tate Britain’s most iconic paintings

Men’s fashion is also covered – from an ornately embroidered man’s coat from the early 18th century through to a pair of bondage trousers by Dame Vivienne Westwood, Queen of Punk.

In other galleries of the museum you will be able to see Glamour – the glitz and glamour of evening wear fashion over the last 100 years and 20th Century Daywear.

The 50 Fabulous Frocks exhibition is on throughout 2013.

Bath Fashion Museum, Assembly Rooms, Bennett Street, Bath, BA1 2QHO

Open daily from 10.30am to 4pm  Cost £2.00 Phone: 01225 477789

Another great place to visit whilst you are in Bath is the undercover Vintage & Antique Market at Green Park Station which is held on the last Sunday of every month.

Bath VA Market
Photo credit: Bath VA Market

It has around 60 hand-picked stalls selling fabulous furniture, jewellery, vintage fashion, homewares, silverware, paintings, ephemera and all manner of vintage and retro items. It’s free to attend and has plenty of scrummy artizan food stalls and a cafe.  They also run a Vintage & Antique market on the 3rd Tuesday in the month.

Bath Vintage & Antique Market, Green Park Station, Green Park Road, Bath, BA1 1JB (next to Sainsbury’s)  Phone: 0772 361 1249

I always visit Vintage to Vogue

I never leave without some more vintage buttons and haberdashery to add to my collection.  They have a good menswear selection, plenty of vintage jumpers, dresses, shoes, accessories and evening wear – all that you would expect to find.  They also offer an online shop and a sourcing service.

Vintage to Vogue: 1960s window display
Photo credit: Vintage to Vogue – 1960s window display

Vintage to Vogue, 28 Milsom Street, Bath BA1 1DG  (down the passage)

Phone 01225 337 323

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *