Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Fashion's memory lane

I like nothing more than a spot of vintage shopping - that search for the perfect piece, the thrill of actually finding it and then imagining who wore it, when and where ....

A new exhibition by the Yorkshire Fashion Archive at Salts Mill in Yorkshire plays on this theme with a display of treasured outfits - everything from wedding dresses and going away outfits to homemade party dresses and Burberry trenches.
The selected dresses and coats are displayed alongside photographs of their owners wearing them and brief descriptions of where they were bought and the circumstances they were worn in.
This 1957 pale pink wedding dress was designed by the wearer with the dressmaker costing £5 and the material - including the lace veil - costing £10-12. It's displayed alongside her going away skirt suit. Absolutely beautiful.
I love this blue and white print dress. It hasn't dated at all. I love the relaxed pose of the couple by their car, the man with a cigarette in hand, the woman with gloves and handbag, not a hair out of place.
This woman, a glamorous shop owner, illustrates the way that clothes were important class signifiers. She wore her fur coat one day and her fur stole the following day to show her neighbours that she had both. That's the attitude! She liked to visit Blackpool with her mother who looked like her sister. You can build up a whole narrative around her ...
A 1959 homemade dress is shown next to a picture of the owner wearing it to a dance in Jersey. The dressmaker, an art student, made the print using a silk screen. It could be worn today, especially with the bold orange obi belt.
The 1959 peony print dress with train by Cresta was bought from Marshall & Snellgrove, a department store in Leeds. It's my favourite piece. It is pure Alber Elbaz. I dream of dresses like this.
Given that this is Yorkshire, it would be amiss not to have some Burberry represented [their factory is in Castleford]. The classic trenches are the perfect foil to the more elaborate gowns and homemade dresses.

All the clothes exhibited have been either worn or made in Yorkshire with both wearers and items equally represented. With the county's strong link to the textile industry [hello school history lessons] it's no surprise there is such a wealth of material on offer. If you're in the area, or anywhere nearby, it's well worth a visit.

Dress Rehearsal: An Exhibition of Garments from the Yorkshire Fashion Archive runs until May 15 at Gallery 2, Salts Mill, Saltaire. For more information go to www.yorkshirefashionarchive.org


  1. I thought this was a wonderful exhibition - i worked at Marshall & Snelgrove's in Leeds and it brought back so many memories. In that era fashion dictated that women must be groomed within an inch of their lives, we had discipline and deportment - women enjoyed being women and men were so appreciative!!!

  2. Thanks for your comment Kate. Both my mum and grandma have extremely fond memories of Marshall & Snelgrove's as well so it was nice to get an idea of what it was like. Really glad you enjoyed it. Emma