Sunday, 22 November 2015

Putting on the Glitz

Putting on the Glitz is the new exhibition at the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight on Merseyside, featuring twenty 1930s outfits from National Museums Liverpool’s fashion collection.

The emphasis is firmly on glamour; the exhibition begins with a silk crepe and lurex evening dress paired with a crepe-de-chine and marabou feather mantle, and a stunning bias-cut purple silk satin evening dress with cascades of ruffles down the back.

Silk satin dress 1932-35, crepe and lurex dress 1934-34, mantle about 1930

There are dresses by well-known designers, and others which were bought or made locally.

Left to right, dresses by Mainbocher, Lachasse, a local dressmaker, and unknown

For many people in the 1930s such clothes would only be part of the escapism offered by the movies, with little connection to their everyday lives.

Display board giving some context

This evening coat is part of the Tinne Collection, and was bought from George Henry Lee (a local firm, now part of John Lewis) in about 1930-36.

Silk velvet and angora rabbit fur coat

Not all of the dresses on display are evening wear. This wedding dress was bought from Brown’s of Chester (another local firm, still in existence) in 1930.

Wedding dress of silk satin with pearls and diamanté beads

Mirrors make it possible to see the back of some of the dresses - always a winner for me!

1936 evening dress by Callot Soeurs, and rayon jersey dress 1938-40

Close-up of Callot Soeurs dress of silk satin and metallic woven net

Rayon taffeta evening dress and matching bolero, 1935-38

This heavily sequinned dress belonged to Mrs Jane Moreton (neé Wilde), whose father was Chief Officer on the Titanic.

Evening dress about 1935, and 1930s shoulder cape of silver lamé and rabbit fur

There were a number of velvet dresses and coats, including this one of a deep petrol blue, with full sleeves and a heavily ruched neckline.

Silk velvet dress, about 1936-37

The exhibition also includes shoes and hats from the Tinne Collection, plus a number of evening accessories, such as this bag.

Evening bag, rayon and machine embroidery, about 1935-40

Complementing the dresses are a number of 1930s fashion illustrations, several of which are visible in the photographs above. These were drawn by Miss Winifred Aileen Brown, who worked as a fashion illustrator for George Henry Lee in the 1930s. She sketched the fashions when they were modelled in the store, and her drawings were then used in advertisements in the local newspapers.

Illustration by Winifred Aileen Brown

Putting on the Glitz runs until 28 February at the Lady Lever, and entry is free! If you can't visit, click here to see some of the exhibits in detail.

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