Georgians: Dress for Polite Society
25 Jan 2014 – 3 Jan 2016
Dazzling 18th century costumes go on display in the very rooms in which they would have originally been worn.
Bath's Georgian Assembly Rooms have provided a grandiose setting for the Fashion Museum since the 1960s, but this purpose-built space was originally designed to host glittering parties and social events. Assemblies – as they were known – were the epitome of glamorous Georgian life. Dressed in the finest fashions, men and women would gather to dance, drink tea, play cards and listen to music; defined at the time as a 'meeting of the polite persons for the sake of conversation, gallantry, news and play'.
This exhibition reconnects the museum with its 18th century past, showcasing 30 original outfits and ensembles that would have been worn by the wealthy Georgians who frequented the assemblies held there. Among the display are sumptuous women's gowns made of colourful and richly patterned woven silks, and a trio of wide-skirted Court dresses dating from the early reign of King George III. Also included are examples of the embroidered coats and waistcoats that were favoured by stylish gentlemen of the era.
Exploring how the Georgian aesthetic continues to influence contemporary fashion, the museum brings together 18th century-inspired pieces by five of today's leading designers. Creations by Anna Sui, Meadham Kirchhoff, Vivienne Westwood, Stephen Jones, and Alexander McQueen allude to the drama, elegance and grace of the era.