Fabulous fashions at Bankfield Museum

A major new exhibition focusing on all areas of fashion, from historic designs to contemporary trends, is coming soon to Bankfield Museum in Halifax.

The Fashion Gallery opens on Saturday 11 May and takes up the entire top floor of the museum, showcasing centuries of fabulous fashions and textiles.

On display are never before seen dresses, including a recently conserved ‘sack back dress’ dating from the 1700s. This impressive gown is made of a beautiful ‘watercolour effect’ fabric called ‘chine a la branche’ and examples exist in only a few collections around the world, including the V&A in London and the Kyoto Costume Institute in Kyoto, Japan.

The exhibition also showcases Calderdale Museums’ extensive textile collection, following a successful bid for The Textile Society’s Museums, Archive and Conservation Award.

The collection began in 1887 and now contains over 17,000 objects from all over the world, including from Ancient Egypt, China, Japan and India. It also features a range of English embroidery, samplers, costume, court dress, military uniforms, and pattern books from West Yorkshire manufacturers and the design archive of Crossley’s Carpets. Visitors will be able to find out more about the history behind this world-class collection and discover how it came to be in Halifax.

Halifax’s textile heritage is also woven through the gallery, which includes an impressive display of dresses ‘Made in Halifax’. The exhibition shares the stories of the people who sold, made and wore the clothes.

Calderdale Council Museums Curator, Elinor Camille-Wood, said:

“From the everyday to the extraordinary, the changing fashions throughout history have always fascinated me, and it’s been a pleasure to put together this impressive new exhibition at Bankfield Museum.

“Displaying lavish historical pieces alongside modern fashions, you can see how the past has influenced fashion designers throughout the years and continues to inspire current trends.

“Thanks to funding successfully secured for Bankfield Museum from The Textile Society, we’ve also been able to undertake essential research and conservation work on our historic textile pieces.

“A range of seminars and workshops will also be organised as part of the exhibition, helping to put Bankfield on the map as a destination for fashion and textile students, or anyone with a keen interest in fashion.”

The Fashion Gallery at Bankfield Museum opens on Saturday 11 May. This is the first in a series of exhibitions planned for the new gallery, which will be a permanent space in Bankfield Museum to display the impressive and varied costume and textile collection.

Visit for more information about the exhibition and upcoming events at Calderdale museums. See behind the scenes of the new gallery at link)

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