Spanning the last hundred years of fashion, the new exhibition at Alnwick’s Bailiffgate Gallery is a glorious celebration of haute couture evening wear together with an exploration of fashion through the decades.
Designer dresses and accessories loaned by Stella Tennant, Super Model, and Alnwick’s own Duchess of Northumberland, will be joined by evening gowns, suits, handbags, shoes, hats and gladrags worn at special occasions by residents of Northumberland over the years. Showcasing the timeless elegance of Coco Chanel’s Little Black Dress to the iconoclastic designs of Vivienne Westwood, visitors will be up close and personal with high fashion from some of the most influential couturiers of the 20th and 21st Century: Balenciaga, McQueen, Prada, Galliano, Gucci, McCartney and more.
The exhibition also highlights changing fashions and trends over the last 100 years. Dresses worn by Flappers, outspoken women of the roaring 20s defying convention after the end of the First World War; traditional men’s suits from the Second World War; 26″ wide hipsters with flower power shirts from the 60s; Doc Marten working boots appropriated by skinheads, punks, goths and grunge and the ever seductive stiletto heel.
No celebration of fashion would be complete without a red carpet. The Bailiffgate seamstresses, the backbone of any fashion house, have made replica vintage clothes for visitors to dress up, strike a pose and take their own red carpet fashion photographs.
Hilary Waugh, from Bailiffgate, who has led the team curating the exhibition said ‘we are thrilled to have been loaned such fabulous clothes to share with the public. I know like me, visitors will love being up so close that you can study the designs and see every stitch, bead and detail’. Jane Mann said ‘fashion provides a fascinating glimpse into our social history from rebellion to convention through austerity and extravagance: exploring our individuality and sexuality from Virginia Woolf to Madonna via David Bowie. And then I see a vintage outfit and think did I really wear that!’
The exhibition runs from 6th April to 8th September.