Reading a quote by fashion icon Christian Dior on a wall at the Gallery of Costume in Manchester, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. “When I opened my couture house I decided to dress only the most fashionable women from the first ranks of society.” Pretentious much? Then I read some other quotes that seemed to be much more down to earth, such as: “Simplicity, good taste and grooming are the three fundamentals of good dressing and these do not cost money.”
I also liked this one: “I moulded my dresses to the curves of the female body, so that they called attention to its shape.” Whatever I made of this French designer’s words, there was no disputing the fact that Christian Dior knew how to make a fabulous frock.
The stunning collection of his 40s and 50s cocktail dresses, the latest addition to the Gallery of Costume’s extensive vintage clothing collection, attested to this fact. Following a period of rationing during the Second World War, Dior brought romance, femininity and luxury back to fashion with his ‘New Look’ style. The clothes were made to flatter the female form and create an hourglass shape.
The dresses on display were simply stunning and ranged from a floral prom dress to a classic black number with bow detail to the waist. Even on the mannequins, the exquisite shape and luxe fabric stood out with timeless elegance and gorgeous glamour. And they seemed right at home here at the Gallery of Costume that holds an impressive collection of more than 20,000 fashion items from the 17th century to present day; considered to be the most important vintage clothing collection outside of London.
“Dior brought romance, femininity and luxury back to fashion with his ‘New Look’ style. The clothes were made to flatter the female form and create an hourglass shape.”
Located at Platt Hall, a beautiful Grade II Listed Building in the Rusholme area of Manchester, this fashion museum was re-opened in 2010 following a £1 million renovation. Clothes, shoes, bags and fashion magazines are among the items on display over two floors. The colourful collections from through the ages were a feast for the eyes. Regal 17th century gowns could be admired on the second floor, while retro 50s and 60s fashion popped with personality on the ground floor.
There were cabinets filled with beautifully detailed bags that looked so luxurious the word ‘bag’ did not do justice. They were more like pieces of art.
The building itself was absolutely breathtaking; the perfect place for such fine fashion.
Gallery of Costume
Location: Platt Hall, Rusholme, Manchester, M14 5LL
Open: Monday-Friday 1pm-5pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm
Cost: Free entry
Do you like vintage fashion? Would you ever visit the Gallery of Costume?