Tailoring v Glamour

This Autumn, West Yorkshire is playing host to two varying fashion exhibitions – Tailored:  A Very British Fashion at the Leeds Museum and the Age of Glamour at Lotherton Hall.

Tailored:  A Very British Fashion aims to celebrate the tailoring heritage of Leeds.  The exhibition is informative and interesting, highlights include a jacket made for Ringo Star by a Leeds trained tailor to the stars, a suit worn by the Edward, Prince of Wales and a specially commissioned suit by  Leeds born Savile Row tailor, Kathryn Sargent.

Illustration of Savile Row tailoring - pad stitching and interfacing
Illustration of Savile Row tailoring – pad stitching and interfacing
Commissioned suit from Leeds born Savile Row tailor - Kathryn Sargent
Commissioned suit from Leeds born Savile Row tailor – Kathryn Sargent
Example of early 20th century tailoring
Example of early 20th century tailoring
Love the tailoring on this "Teddy Boy" jacket
Love the tailoring on this “Teddy Boy” jacket
Love the tailoring on this Vivienne Westwood suit
Love the tailoring on this Vivienne Westwood suit
Always love McQueen
Always love McQueen

If I’m honest, I was a little disappointed by this exhibition as I felt many of the exhibits had very tenuous links to Leeds.  I was also confused by the inclusion of designers such as Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen.  Yes they are good examples of tailoring but as far as I could tell, these garments had no links to Leeds whatsoever, and I thought we were exploring the heritage of the industry in the city.  I found this especially confusing given how vast the tailoring industry had been in Leeds during the twentieth century.  Not only was Burton a huge manufacturer within the city, there were many many others.  My grandmother spent years working in the tailoring industry for several different manufacturers making suits for high profile department stores, including Harrods, so  I know a little of the vastness but yearned for more.

By contrast The Age of Glamour, an exhibition of 1950s fashions at Lotherton Hall near Leeds, focuses on the impact Parisian fashions, namely Christian Dior’s 1947 New Look, had on British fashions.  In their newly opened Fashion Gallery, the exhibition includes many original Parisian dresses from Dior, together with dresses from the M&S archive.

Another exhibition, another archive film intro - couture at it's best
Another exhibition, another archive film intro – couture at it’s best
Christian Dior dress
Christian Dior dress
Ultimate glamour - the 1950s gown
Ultimate glamour – the 1950s gown

The 1950s look – the New Look – was all about the waist.  Women had gone into the workplace in the war years and now was a time (even if they were still working) to regain their femininity after years of austerity dressing.  The small “wasp” like waist was achieved by foundation…

The ultimate day-wear - the 1950s nipped at the waist suit... and what a waist!
The ultimate day-wear – the 1950s nipped at the waist suit… and what a waist!
...and how was it achieved? Looks torturous - "the waspie"
…and how was it achieved? Looks torturous – “the waspie” corset helped achieve this unnatural silhouette

From Parisian fashion to the accessories room – no woman left the house without her hat, gloves and elegant bag (no tote bags in sight darling!) to the rise of the Department Store, this exhibition shows a little of every element of 1950s life.    The final room has a map of the department stores situated in nearby Leeds during the 1950s.

Accessories - a very important part of the look in an age when a woman never left the house without a hat and gloves
Accessories – a very important part of the look in an age when a woman never left the house without a hat and gloves
Something from the M&S archive
Something from the M&S archive

Whilst I liked the tailoring exhibition (it’s my passion after all), I thoroughly enjoyed the Age of Glamour, perhaps its the semi-grand surroundings of this elegant little hall, or just a wistfulness for a lost era of elegance, whatever it may be its certainly worth a visit this autumn… and as the leaves become golden the grounds will be a treat too.

 

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