A critique of the exhibition entitled the 50 fabulous frocks hosted by the bath fashion museum

  • The 50 fabulous frocks exhibition is a collection of iconic fashion items that have been collected by the museum over the 50 years that it has been running. The museum was first founded by the bath city council and Doris Langley, and since then has managed accumulate a vast collection of fashion pieces that are available until the end of 2013 for the public to admire and appreciate. The exhibition was created as a celebration of the museum’s world class collection that includes the work of designers such as john Rocha, alexander McQueen, Vionnet and Vivienne Westwood.
  • The fashion museum came to the assembly rooms originally called the museum of costume in 1963 partially founded by Doris Langley Moore who in her own right was a collector of historic dress.  Over the years the museum has continued to build on its collection that numbers 80 to 100, 00 objects. This exhibition is specifically designed to appeal to everyone, from those interested in fashion to anyone else keen to learn more about the history behind it. The purpose of the display is to show both the richness of the museum collection as well as key moments in fashion history that continue to provide inspiration for modern day designers. The 50 fabulous frocks are a good range between historic and contemporary fashions and have truly captured the essence of the 50 years in the fashion museums history.
  • The exhibition was curated by rosemary harden with Iain R Webb their selection of key fashion pieces to display for the museum spanned over a century of fashion design. I appreciated the display itself because it showcased work from a collection of different designers and managed to make it look like the pieces had some sort of link or connection.  There also seemed to be colour coordination between the dresses, for example with how the red wool jersey mini dress by André courreges 1960s was displayed next the red velvet evening dress by Mme handley Seymour 1933 even though they were designed in different decades.  Although displaying the collection in chronological order would have benefitted in viewing the changes that occurred in fashion due to the events that occurred during each decade/era or movement.
  • What I found interesting to observe and discover that even from a vast collection of pieces collected by the museum over the years the majority of top class designers were from a European background. I would like to explore why there is a lack of other ethnicities  represented to showcase for the 50 years, they have  equality contributed to the level at which fashion is at in the modern era. I would also like to research and investigate as to why this is also mirrored in some of the most famous catwalks around the world why aren’t ethnic designers elevated to the same level as their European counterparts in terms of publicity, coverage and representation. I felt that there was also a lack of representation for men’s wear because fashion design has gone beyond the gender barrier and frocks have also been designed for men just as much as for women. I believe the two frameworks will be interesting to research in more depth because they can intertwine at times.
  • It has given me insight in to how I could use my work to embrace these frameworks rather than be hindered by then. To able to display or create work that links well together yet tells a story of progression and development.










Grace Mwilima





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