Royal outfits to go on show

Royal outfits to go on show

A new exhibition exploring the fashions worn by successive generations of women in the Royal Family will open at the Fashion Museum Bath on 3 February 2018 and run until 28 April 2019.

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Royal Women will be a ‘family tree’ exhibition looking at the clothes worn by Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, and Princess Margaret.

Wives and daughters, sisters and mothers; none of them were regnant yet they all played a key role in the British monarchy. The exhibition will examine their sartorial lives, looking at each woman’s unique style, the role they played within the monarchy and how that was reflected in their choice of dress.

The exhibition will feature exquisite items of dress from the Fashion Museum collection, as well as a major loan from the Royal Collection, generously lent by Her Majesty The Queen.


EVENING DRESS, lilac silk by Morin Blossier about 1893 Lilac watered silk with velvet, lace and pearl trimmings Worn by Queen Alexandra Credit: Fashion Museum Bath

The exhibition curator, Elly Summers, said: “The Fashion Museum is one of the world’s great museum collections of historical fashionable dress and we are immensely fortunate that amongst its treasures it includes dress belonging to members of the Royal Family; we are equally fortunate in the loan of key pieces from the Royal Collection.”

Each of the royal women featured in the exhibition had their own unique style:

Her Majesty Queen Alexandra

1 December 1844 – 20 November 1925

Queen Alexandra was a fashion icon, whose look was quite different from that of her mother-in-law, Queen Victoria. She set a trend for chokers and high necklines and was well known for her elegant, tailored daywear.  

Her Majesty Queen Mary

26 May 1867 – 24 March 1953

An imposing, statuesque figure, Mary was the embodiment of royalty. Her role was to be a steadying influence, reassuring the British public during difficult times, including the First World War, and her dress style reflected this. Mary’s style stayed constant through dramatic changes in fashions during the first half of the 20th century. Impeccably dressed, for eveningwear she wore heavily beaded gowns and for day she wore tailored suits and large toque hats.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

4 August 1900 – 30 March 2002

Elizabeth and King George VI were seen as the saviours of the monarchy and had to weather many crises, including the Second World War and the abdication of Edward VIII. Elizabeth related well to the public, and brought sparkle to the image of royal women in the post-war world, when it was much needed. Elizabeth loved fashion and took a keen interest in designs, fabrics and colours. Norman Hartnell designed much of what she wore – which included dramatic eveningwear and soft pastel coloured daywear that flattered her diminutive height.


EVENING DRESS, red and white striped cotton by Norman Hartnell 1949 Red and white ͚candy-striped͛ cotton evening dress with full sleeves Worn by Princess Margaret Credit: Fashion Museum Bath

Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon

21 August 1930 – 9 February 2002

Princess Margaret was glamorous and beautiful and was often photographed wherever she went. Unlike the reigning monarch, Margaret had more freedom to explore fashion, something she took great pleasure in. Many of her earlier outfits were designed by Hartnell, and she became a great patron of Christian Dior after she was introduced to his New Look collection in 1947.

Highlights of the exhibition include:

  • Tartan silk dress belonging to Alexandra, Princess of Wales (about 1870)

Made by Madame Elise, this stunning tartan dress was probably worn by Alexandra to a function at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of the monarch in Scotland.

This exquisite dress has a great story, for it was part of the dispersed royal wardrobe. Following Alexandra’s death in 1925, many of her dresses were dispersed and even today the whereabouts of many remain a mystery. This colourful dress, now a treasured part of the Fashion Museum collection, was discovered in the 1930s in a high end ‘vintage’ shop called Baroque in Margaret Street in London, and from there made its way into the Fashion Museum collection.

  • Purple silk chiffon dress belonging to Alexandra, Princess of Wales (1910)

Made by Madame Doeuillet, of very fine, heavily embroidered silk chiffon, this dress was most likely unworn, perhaps having been discarded for mourning clothes on Edward VII’s death.

  • Dress and cape of gold lamé and turquoise cut velvet belonging to Queen Mary (1947)

Made by Hartnell and worn by Queen Mary to the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten RN at Wesminster Abbey in 1947. This historic commission for Hartnell included not only designing the wedding dress for the Princess, but also the dresses for her eight bridesmaids and members of her family.


EVENING DRESS, grey silk satin with beads decoration by Norman Hartnell 1954 Grey silk satin evening dress decorated with beads, mother of pearl, sequins and diamantés Worn by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Credit: Fashion Museum Bath

  • Grey silk satin ball gown worn by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (1954)

On long-term loan from the Royal Collection, the dress was made by Hartnell and worn to a dinner for educational charity the English Speaking Union in New York on 3 November 1954. Hartnell gowns were hugely labour intensive – at this time he employed 400 staff, from cutters and seamstresses to embroiderers.

  • Christian Dior ‘Rose Pompon’ strapless cream silk chiffon day dress worn by Princess Margaret (1952)

The Princess wore this dress from Dior’s ‘Rose Pompon’ collection to Royal Ascot.

  • Christian Dior strapless black lace evening dress worn by Princess Margaret (1953)

Worn to a performance of Guys and Dolls at the London Coliseum on 23 July 1953, which Princess Margaret attended along with her sister The Queen and Prince Philip.



Dress of the Year selector announced.

Dress of the Year selector announced.

Sarah Bailey, Hearst Lifestyle Group Editorial Director, will select the Fashion Museum Bath’s Dress of the Year 2017.


Sarah Bailey.jpg

Sarah Bailey of Red Magazine.


Each year, the Fashion Museum invites a top name from the fashion industry to select an outfit that encapsulates the prevailing mood of fashion, represents the past year and captures the imagination. The outfit then goes on display at the museum and becomes part of its world-class collection.

fashion museum

Look 41 – By Gareth Pugh – 2014 Dress of the Year.

Sarah said: “I am thrilled to be asked to be part of Dress of the Year at the Fashion Museum. 2017 has been an extraordinary year – how to decide?”

Rosemary Harden, Fashion Museum Manager, said: “We were delighted when Sarah said ‘yes’ to choosing Dress of the Year 2017 for the Fashion Museum. Under Sarah’s editorship, Red has become a leading UK magazine and brand – exciting, stylish, and connecting beautifully with women today. Everyone here at the Fashion Museum in Bath is so excited to see what Sarah’s selection will be.”

Former Editor-in-Chief of ELLE magazine, Sarah worked at Harper’s Bazaar for nearly a decade on both sides of The Atlantic. She was appointed to the Editor-in-Chief role at Red magazine in 2013.

fashion museum

The Dress of the Year 2017 will be announced and go on display at the Fashion Museum on 1 December 2017. It will become the final exhibit in the museum’s headline exhibition, A History of Fashion in 100 Objects.

Bath to showcase ‘Lace in Fashion’

Bath to showcase ‘Lace in Fashion’

The Fashion Museum Bath’s special exhibition for 2017 will be ‘Lace in Fashion’ (4 February 2017-1 January 2018). Drawing on the riches of the museum’s collection, as well as generous loans from contemporary fashion designers, the exhibition will showcase over 50 exquisite pieces, showing how lace has been used in fashion from the time of Shakespeare to the present day. 


Three lace dresses, poplin applied to organdie by Balenciaga, Leavers machine-made lace by Molyneux, Leavers machine-made lace over gold jersey by Balmain, 1900s Cream organdie full length evening dress with applique design imitating Carrickmacross lace, 1950s. Lime green fine Leavers machine-made silk lace embellished full-length evening dress with hand-tamboured sequins and bugle beads, 1930s. Cream Leavers machine-made lace evening dress over gold jersey, 1953. © Fashion Museum

The Exhibition Curator, Elly Summers, has been working painstakingly to catalogue the museum’s extensive collection of lace dating from the 1500s to the present day, supported by a grant from the Arts Council England and assisted by expert volunteers from the Lace Guild. This research has uncovered many gems from the collection – for example a lace dress made in 1805, which may be the only surviving dress worn by Queen Charlotte. 

Global British luxury brand Burberry is loaning two looks from its Spring/Summer 2016 collections: a menswear look including a lace caban and shirt, and a womenswear look featuring a silk and lace dress. Other highlights will include a navy blue lace dress worn by Lea Seydoux in the James Bond film Spectre, which has been loaned to the museum by Australian design duo Lover, and a 1991 Karl Lagerfeld dress worn by 1990s supermodel Linda Evangelista in British Vogue, which celebrates its centenary in 2016.

 Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “‘Lace in Fashion’ will showcase some of the rarest and most beautiful pieces from the Fashion Museum collection, and explore the fascinating history of lace. We are delighted that fashion designers – from the UK to Australia – are supporting the Fashion Museum by generously lending pieces for the exhibition.”

fashion museum

The oldest object in the exhibition will be a smock dating from 1580-1600 with Flemish bobbin lace on the sleeves and collar, which is one of the earliest pieces in the Fashion Museum’s collection. Another of the museum’s rarest treasures will also appear in the show: a silver tissue dress made from fine silk woven with silver thread and trimmed with parchment lace, which dates from around 1660. This is a rare survival of parchment lace, a delicate fabric made using tiny strips of parchment or paper, wrapped in silk and incorporated into the design of the bobbin-made lace.

From the 1500s to 1700s, lace was a high-value fabric and a sign of prestige, mostly worn by royals and the aristocracy. There were two types of lace available – bobbin lace and needle lace, both of which were incredibly time consuming to produce, and required great levels of skill. 

Mechanisation followed and by the end of the 1800s many people could afford to wear lace. New lace-making techniques appeared, including machine lace, chemical lace, tape lace and tatting. Examples of fashionable dress made using all of these techniques will be included in the show. Today, top designers such as Valentino and Alexander McQueen frequently use lace in their designs, and lace is popular in high street fashions.

fashion museum

The exhibition will look at the following themes:

Luxury – exploring the development of lace making from the 1500s to 1700s, when lace was a high-value, luxury material

Technique – covering the mechanisation of lace making over the course of the 1800s

Everyday – featuring fashionable clothing from 1909 to the 1970s, when lace had become affordable for many people

Couturiers – showcasing exclusive lace dresses made by couturiers for wealthy clients in the 1900s, including leading Parisian and British couturiers of the day

Royal – including a 1805 dress that may have belonged to Queen Charlotte, and two dresses by leading British fashion designer Norman Hartnell, worn in the 1950s by Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother

Celebrity – featuring a 1991 Karl Lagerfeld dress worn by one of the original supermodels of the 1990s, Linda Evangelista, in British Vogue, and a 2015 Venus dress worn by Lea Seydoux in the James Bond film Spectre.

Modern – revealing how today’s catwalk is challenging traditional concepts of lace in fashion, with fashion looks by Burberry, Alexander McQueen, Erdem and Christopher Kane

‘Lace in Fashion’ complements the Fashion Museum’s major exhibition, ‘A History of Fashion in 100 Objects’, which runs until 1 January 2019. Admission to both exhibitions is included in the Fashion Museum ticket.

For information:

The Fashion Museum is one of the world’s great museum collections of historical and contemporary fashionable dress, situated in the beautiful World Heritage City of Bath. Designated as a Collection of Outstanding National Significance by Arts Council England, the Fashion Museum collection includes fashionable dress for women, men and children, from the 1600s to the present day.


First look at the new ‘Min’

First look at the new ‘Min’

I am able to bring Bath Newseum followers a first glimpse of the proposed new building which will replace the city’s much-loved Mineral Water Hospital and be constructed as part of the main Royal United Hospital complex at Weston.


How the new Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases may look when it is built and joined to one side of the entrance to the RUH. The new Dyson Cancer Centre makes up the extending wing on the other side – out of frame on the right of this illustration.

The image comes courtesy of Professor George Odam – who was Patient Governor of the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases for nine years.


Professor George Odam

He is also someone who has relentlessly campaigned  to ensure that the move to the main hospital – from the Grade 2 listed and town-centered building – will not reduce the status of the research work done there over the years AND the future quality of service to patients.

The old hospital – known affectionately as The Min – was founded for the nation’s ‘deserving poor’  and the foundation stone laid in 1738.

the min

John Wood’s plan for the hospital.

Designed by John Wood the Elder, the Bath stone was given by John Allen from his local quarries and the money to build the first half of the current building ( a Victorian wing  was added later) – raised by Beau Nash from amongst Bath’s wealthy visitors.

Since then it has specialised in the treatment of rheumatological conditions with the aim of rehabilitating patients as soon as possible, and the historic casebook, in the hospital’s museum, gives precise detail of cases from the very beginning.

Professor Odam says:

‘In the 1940s, following severe bombing, The Min was rebuilt with energy and vision, spurred on by the determination of Bath’s own Dr George Kersley, who founded the first Department of Rheumatology and gave the name to this new discipline.
The Min survived and has remained in the historic buildings that patients have grown to love so much for their friendliness, charm and lack of normal health institutional atmosphere.
the min

The ‘Min’

Research has been a king pin of this hospital’s work over the centuries and The Min has more recently become a national centre for award-winning research into and treatment of a rare rheumatic condition called Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS).
Clinicians have worked creatively with physiotherapists and hydrotherapists to evolve a residential course for AS patients. This course has no equivalent anywhere else and thousands of patients from all over the UK and also from other parts of the globe have benefitted from it, often describing it as life-changing.’
the min
Now it has been decided the original building is no longer ‘fit-for-purpose’ and The Min will close in two years as its work transfers to the newly-built centre at the RUH.

Of the new building illustration – Professor  Odam tells followers of a Facebook Closed group – for supporters and patients of the RNHRD :

“You can see, it has developed hugely over the past year and far beyond the first sketches which were worrying.

The plan puts it opposite the new Dyson Cancer Centre, at the front of the RUH and it will finally match it in overall presentation.


How the new Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases may look when it is built and joined to one side of the entrance to the RUH. The new Dyson Cancer Centre makes up the extending wing on the other side and out of sight on the right of the picture.

The plan for the new hydro pool is exciting and definitely outshines our beloved pool at The Min. The Centre will have its own X Ray and consulting rooms, gym and therapy centre but no bed wards. I understand that there is also a proposal for an adjacent patients accommodation block for those on courses, but this has yet to be divulged.

Although research will not take place in the new centre it is good to know that future research proposals from RNHRD will have that as a title – building on the worldwide research reputation of The Min.’

I understand there is going to be a ‘Patient Consultation’ meeting on Thursday of this week  when floor plans will also be produced for comment. Both the look of the new building, what it is actually called AND what is eventually offered inside could change.

The meeting is also to reassure patients that, in the future, they can expect the same clinicians providing the same level of service but in a purpose-built new location.

In the meantime, Professor Odam turns his comments towards the fate of the old building.

‘Although I am still greatly worried about the fate of our historic lovely hospital, many agencies are now sensitised and interested in its future. I sincerely hope that the link with medicine and the waters will not be lost.


I’m aware that B&NES and Ben Howlett MP are keeping a watchful eye – which is heartening. The proposed Bath Medical Museum, housing the history of The Min in tangible form, will be an important part of future decisions.’

There are lots of possible outcomes in the air regarding the future of this prime piece of Bath’s historic and medically relevant architecture.

First of all the newly-energised Bath Medical Museum – with its amazing collection of art and patient records – will want to be part of whatever scheme is adopted. There are two other possible occupants elsewhere in the city.

Bath Fashion Museum is not that far from the end of its lease at the Assembly Rooms and the city’s Record Office – in the Guildhall – is fast running out of space.

Bath Record Office

Bath Record Office at the Guildhall.

If that is not enough to fill the old building there is the question of the original hydrotherapy bath and the amazing conduit originally used to pump thermal water up to the hospital from the spring in Stall Street.

While the city’s Thermae Spa offers visitors a chance to soak in these amazing hot springs – maybe – its being suggested -the Min could switch the pumps back on and bring the water  up through the conduit to supply an up market ‘medical spa centre’ – designed for international clients prepared to pay for that level of service.

For Your Information:

Professor George Odam was the first Professor of Music to be appointed at Bath Spa University and subsequently was Head of Research at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London – retiring in 2007. He has lived in and around Bath for 45 years and has a keen interest in its history and art.

Taking pride in what’s downstairs!

Taking pride in what’s downstairs!

It might be hidden away in a Georgian basement, but ‘Bath should be proud of what it’s got downstairs’.


The Director of ALVA Bernard Donoghue officially opens the event.

So says Bernard Donoghue – Director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions and the man who officially opened the new ‘A History of Fashion in 100 Objects’ at the city’s Fashion Museum last night (Friday, March 18).


Guests gather beneath the Tea Room chandeliers for the official opening.

ALVA’s members  – of which the Roman Baths is one – are the UK’s most popular, iconic and important museums, galleries, palaces, castles, cathedrals, zoos, historic houses, heritage sites, gardens and leisure attractions.


A welcome to guests from the Vice Chairman of B&NES Cllr Alan Hale.

They comprise over 2200 tourist sites, hosting over 119 million domestic and overseas visitors each year – around 28% of the visits made annually in the UK.


Fashion Museum Manager Rosemary Harden with Dan Brown from Bath in Time – he found the suffragettes parasol you will see in the new exhibition and supplied the Bath ‘background’ in the enlarged ‘dressing up and take your picture’ section.

Mr Donoghue said the Fashion Museum had a premier reputation around the world and that the new exhibition was thought provoking and dynamic in the way it showed how people presented themselves through history.


Quite a queue leading down into the Fashion Museum!

Behind the silks, cottons and man-made fibres were stories of people, power, poverty and passion.IMG_7391

Several hundred guests gathered in the Tea Room for a welcome from the Vice Chairman of B&NES Cllr Alan Hale before going down to have a look at the new exhibition themselves.IMG_7393

The galleries of the museum have been refreshed and re-modelled for the new display. One hundred ‘star ‘objects from its collection have been selected to help showcase a history of fashion from the 1500s to the present day.IMG_7388

Check out for opening times and admission chargesIMG_7390


Fashion’s top 100 in Bath

Fashion’s top 100 in Bath

Considering it is owned and run by the local authority – which isn’t exactly flush for extra cash at present – Bath’s Fashion Museum has just carried out an impressive  refurbishment and re-modelling of what is one of the world’s great museum collections of historic and contemporary dress.

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New lighting, colour scheme and display cases are now helping to promote a headline exhibition which opens on Saturday, March 19th.

It’s called A History of Fashion in 100 Objects – and they are all star exhibits chosen from a collection of almost 100,000 objects in total.


Leading the team charged with selecting the items – many of them never on public display before – is Manager Rosemary Harden – herself celebrating 25 years at the Fashion Museum this year.

In case you haven’t already visited – you’ll find Bath’s Fashion Museum in the basement at The Assembly Rooms – near The Circus and Royal Crescent. It’s where it has been housed since 1963.


It was founded by Doris Langley Moore, a designer, collector, writer and scholar, who gave her famous private collection of costume to the city of Bath.

The Fashion Museum is owned by Bath and North East Somerset Council and is managed by the Heritage Services section.


Topman Director to choose Dress of the Year.

Topman Director to choose Dress of the Year.

Gordon Richardson, Creative Director at Topman, is to select the Fashion Museum’s Dress of the Year for 2015.

Gordon Richardson.

Gordon Richardson.

Each year, the Fashion Museum Bath invites a fashion luminary to select an outfit that they feel encapsulates the prevailing mood of fashion, represents the past year and captures the zeitgeist or imagination. The outfit then goes on display at the museum and becomes part of its world-class collection. The Dress of the Year 2015 will be unveiled on December 3.

“We are excited that Gordon has agreed to select the Dress of the Year 2015,” said Rosemary Harden, Fashion Museum Manager. “The choice of this year’s selector recognises that this is such an important moment for menswear.

“With his involvement in MAN and ‘London Collections Men’ Gordon has been instrumental in kick-starting the careers of many of Britain’s most directional menswear designers, who are acclaimed the world over. We are intrigued to see what he’s going to choose.”

Gordon Richardson said: “I am so honoured to have been asked to select the next Dress of the Year. With so many talented young designers producing exciting, challenging clothes it was no easy task to select one to represent the best of international fashion design right now.”

The Fashion Museum is run by Bath & North East Somerset Council. Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), the Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “It’s great news that such an influential name from the fashion world has agreed to select this year’s Dress of the Year. Local residents will be able to see his selection for free at the Fashion Museum when they show a Discovery Card.”

For Your Information:

Look 41 - By Gareth Pugh - 2014 Dress of the Year.

Look 41 – By Gareth Pugh – 2014 Dress of the Year.

The Dress of the Year Collection was launched in 1963 by Doris Langley Moore, founder of the Fashion Museum Bath. Dress of the Year 1963, chosen by the Fashion Writers’ Association, was a grey wool dress and cream blouse by Mary Quant. Other feted designers featured include Ossie Clark, Kenzo Takada, Missoni, Calvin Klein, Muiccia Prada, Karl Lagerfeld (for Chloe and Chanel), Alexander McQueen, Tom Ford and Raf Simons. Dress of the Year 2014 was a plastic three-piece ensemble by Gareth Pugh, selected by LOVE editor Katie Grand.

While the selector of the Dress of the Year is for the most part a journalist or stylist, Richardson is not the first retail expert to select the Dress of the Year. In 1990 Joan Burstein, owner of Browns luxury boutique, chose a glamorous velvet trouser suit by Italian designer Romeo Gigli, while in 2010 milliner Stephen Jones selected a raw-edged silk gown by Vivienne Westwood. The roll call of selectors provides a fascinating picture of the wider, ever-changing fashion industry. A full listing of the Dress of the Year collection can be viewed at

The Dress of the Year 2015 will be on display from 3 December 2015 to 3 January 2016. It will then be showcased in a new exhibition at the Fashion Museum from spring 2016.
Tickets for the Fashion Museum cost £8.25 adults/£7.25 concessions/£6.25 children/£24 families. Entry is free for local Discovery Card holders.