Best fashion exhibitions

  • 12 September 2016

Backroom bars and bombshell rebels – the fashion shows this autumn that reveal why clothes have always been at the cutting edge.


The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined

Taste in one era is vulgarity in another, as revealed in this opulent exhibition charting the vagaries of fashion through the ages. Rococo Paris called for copious ribbons and dresses the width of ping pong tables, so outré a century later, while the lamé gowns worn by the society set in the hungry 1930s are unquestionably insensitive now. What this show ultimately reveals is that bling, opulence and luxury are alive and well in every era.


1920s Jazz Age: Fashion and Photographs

With jazz came the birth of cool; suits were sharp, dresses were drop-waisted and hair was bobbed. This exhibition documents that hedonistic era, from the street to the silver screen. Featuring over 150 garments, including flapper dresses and velvet capes, it also incorporates images by the American photographer James Abbe who made his name by taking witty pictures of the stars.


Fashion on the Ration: 1940s Street Style

With nylons at a premium and fabric limited by rationing, it required all the creative ingenuity of a Parisian couturier to fashion clothes during the Second World War. But never under estimate the resourcefulness of the average Brit. This exhibition features a bracelet made from aircraft components and lingerie stitched from RAF silk maps.


A History of Fashion in 100 Objects

A compelling exhibition charting British history through its fashions. It begins with Bath’s glory days in the Georgian era, with tailored silk coats and beautifully embroidered dresses, before offering up a veritable treasure trove of curios, including a dress designed by Titanic survivor Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon. So beloved of society ladies were her designs that at the opening of the inquest into the disaster, the gallery was packed with women wearing her creations.


You Say You Want A Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-70

This exhibition reveals how the sweeping social changes during the 1960s affected British culture, from its music to its fashion. View George Harrison’s faux-military regalia from Sgt Pepper and walk down a re-creation of Carnaby Street, the epicentre of British cool, while listening to John Peel’s ultimate '60s soundtrack.


Fashion & Freedom

To mark the anniversary of the First World War, Manchester Art Gallery has invited a group of innovative fashion designers to create original outfits inspired by the new found freedoms afforded to women during the crisis. No longer domestic drudges, women threw off their corsets and rolled up their sleeves, transforming the way we dress forever.

Tags: ExhibitionsWhat to see