Fashion and textile exhibitions

On my holiday to the UK I kept discovering fashion and textile exhibitions and they were so interesting that I thought I might create a post to keep a record.

The first one I went to was the Bath Fashion Museum which is housed in the Assembly Rooms, and which has a version of the iconic Mondrian dress. The ones I usually see are multicoloured, so I was very interested in this monochromatic version. I have an urge to create one of these.


I was a tad disappointed with the dearth of 1920s and 1930s fashions but these gorgeous dresses mollified me a little. If I needed a ball gown (and was considerably younger) I would totally make the dress with the red back. I really enjoyed looking at the accessories – those shoes!


Then I went to a tiny wearable fashion exhibition in the town of Painswick, which built its wealth on the wool trade, which is now sadly long gone.


The fashions are all created by young people and were made from recycled materials.


London has a number of exhibitions, probably the most famous of which is the Victoria and Albert Museum. The V&A has a massive fashion and textile collection, and some of the clothes in their exhibition are truly magnificent. I adore this coat and rue the fact that it just doesn’t fit my lifestyle, so I won’t be getting one any time soon.


I went to the Undressed: a brief history of underwear and it was marvellous. Photos weren’t allowed, but I did sneak this one as I thought next year I could make something similar for my one-year-one-outfit and I wouldn’t have to make another thing if I posed on the beach. Very tempting…


The V&A shop is always on my list of places to go and this time it didn’t disappoint. They had some really interesting bags made from recycled suits. Who would have thought of turning a sleeve into a bag?


Kensington Palace has an exhibition of royal clothing, which I felt compelled to visit, although I was slightly disappointed. Compared with the other exhibitions the offering was fairly paltry and consisted of clothes belonging to the Queen, Princess Margaret and Princess Diana. I felt that the display was rather static and lacked the interest of some of the other exhibitions, probably caused by the way the clothes were presented. Without photographs of the owners wearing their clothes, this would have been a rather boring affair.


One of the things that struck me was that Princess Margaret was obviously quite diminutive. This black dress belonged to her and the waist is tiny.img_8999

This is a shocking photo and I would not have included it, except that this dress of Princess Diana’s is stunning.


And I can’t imagine Princess Diana in this dress, but there are photos of her wearing it. I love the use of stripes here.


We all know that Queen Victoria was rather short and stout and never really came out of mourning. Here is a dress that is so synonymous with her style, I could have identified it without  a label.


We accidentally came across the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey and to my joy the current exhibition was on the 1920s Jazz Age.


I noticed that some of their exhibits came from the museum in Bath which may be why their 1920s collection seemed rather depleted. I took a large number of photographs here, but just showing a few of my favourites. What am I saying? They were all my favourites!

The decoration on these dresses was just exquisite, and I imagined seamstresses with bloodied fingers creating the embellishment on these dresses.img_9023

I could almost imagine wearing this robe. I want to copy it so badly, but I need that fabric!


All of the lounge wear was stunning and surprisingly contemporary.


I want this dress so badly I could weep!


And the casual elegance of this dress had me hyperventilating

And how about this magnificent silk velvet? For all the advances in technology, design and production seems to have gone backwards. img_9033

This is a fairly contemporary style, and I like the ingenious way they pull the sides of the top down. I assume that the tassel is weighted, giving the top shape, which it wouldn’t otherwise have.



this dress has a very stylish collar which I’m sure has a place in my wardrobe somewhere!


Some glorious detailing on this dress with the ruffles on the collar, lower skirt, sleeves and bodice. The colour is quite subdued but oh, so sophisticated.


I might have some fabric suitable for something similar to this…


or this!


And no 1920s collection is complete without beading. I took a large number of photographs of beaded dresses, but this “belt” is beyond words.img_9070

I took the time to look at the workshops on offer here and was quite amazed by the extent – everything from do it yourself couture, drawing, dyeing, knitting, crocheting and even how to make a boudoir doll. Check out  for the full list.

I am sure that I missed a few exhibitions, I have so many photographs to sort through that I’m a bit bamboozled. I post these as a form of inspiration or just for ogling. At one point in the last exhibition I felt that I was in an episode of Downton Abbey and very happy about it, too!


30 thoughts on “Fashion and textile exhibitions

  1. Thank you so much for sharing some of your travels here in this way!!! These are exhibits I will probably never see and it is such fun to ‘see’ them vicariously through your eyes and thoughts. 🙂

  2. So pleased to continue my travels with you – loved your photos and so appreciate you taking the time to share them – can’t wait to see what you create based on this inspiration!!

  3. Great photographs, and you have been to more fashion exhibitions in the UK than me this year! I’m going back to London with my daughter between Christmas and New year so I will see if I can get to Bermondsey then.

  4. Wonderful! thank you for sharing these exhibitions. I’d love to see you in the dress in the 3rd last pic! And I’d love the pattern and fabric for the ‘hyperventilating’ dress.

  5. Wow, these photos are fantastic. I totally agree with your assessment of the regress of the design/production industry in the 21st century. Craftsmanship seems to have disappeared in in direct proportion to mass production.

    Was fantastic to see these images. Thank you.

    1. I had the best visit (home now). The Bath exhibition had an area where one could try on some clothes and I have a large number of photos of myself in weird bonnets.

  6. Oh lovely! I really like Princess Margaret’s black dress. I went to the FTM last year with a colleague to see a Liberty exhibition – it’s a really nice place, isn’t it?

  7. I was going to say, what about the fashion and textile museum, and now I see you have it too! Weren’t the 20s dresses lovely. All the cutwork and frills. The amount of cutwork alone must have taken ages to sew. Obviously these were not shop assistants dresses! I also loved the cases with all the deco compacts etc. It is so nice to have this new fashion museum now, and makes the V&A work a bit harder? 😉 It is a lovely exhibition and on till February- I really recommend it.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing, beautiful garments! When I traveled to Russia I was fortunate to visit the Catherine the Great dress exhibition, she was so vain that never wore same dress twice. The beauty and intricate design of the dresses blew my mind away. You would have loved it.
    I just followed you, I like your blog.

    Love from

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