A Century of Style: Costume and Colour 1800 – 1899 Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum 25 Sept 2015 – 14 February 2016

velvet dresses

velvet dressesAnother wonderful exhibition at Kelvingrove

25 September 2015–14 February 2016

Tickets: £5/£3 (with Gift Aid £5.50/£3.30) 
under 16s FREE

This beautiful exhibition of 19th-century clothing comes from Glasgow Museums’ collection of European costume. Showcasing some rarely seen examples of womenswear, menswear and children’s clothing, it considers how such clothes were made and where they were sold, as well as revealing the stories of some of the people who wore them.

costumes kelvingrove

I loved this exhibition and will definitely return.  Not only are the costumes wonderful but the information provided on the history of the costumes, their purpose, design and construction, is absolutely fascinating.

The displays feature dresses and outfits made with delicate embroidered cottons and elaborate woven silks, as well as beautiful wedding dresses and opulent evening gowns. Leading Glaswegian department stores and dressmakers are represented in the exhibition, alongside an exquisite beaded couture dress from Paris. There is also a wide range of accessories on show, including delicate jewellery, bonnets, colourful shawls, purses and even a metamorphic parasol. 

Glasgow Museums’ 19th-century costume collection reflects an important period in the history of Glasgow and the West of Scotland. During the 1800s the Strathclyde area was a leading textile manufacturing region and Glasgow was a major retail centre. 

costumes kelvingroveInventions such as sewing machines, aniline dyes and paper patterns helped to revolutionise the fashion industry, allowing for the mass production of garments. Magazines with hand-coloured fashion prints spread the news of what was in and out of fashion and helped to fuel demand. That demand was met by the large warehouses and department stores that began to dominate the shopping streets of major cities, including Glasgow.

There are currently no long term displays of this part of the costume collection in any of Glasgow’s museums, meaning this exhibition offers a fantastic opportunity to see some fabulous and rarely shown gowns, accessories and jewellery.


blue dress

Dresses and accessories from the exhibition ​include:

  • A silk and cotton dress by R Simpson and Sons of Glasgow, which was a five floor department store on the corner of Jamaica Street and Argyle Street. The ladies department sold fabrics and haberdashery as well as complete costumes, mantles and jackets. This stunning dress was made around 1883–85 and was worn by Annie, wife of the founder’s son, Robert Kirk Simpson
  • Embroidered evening shoes, known as slippers, made with straight leather soles. When these were first made, around 1830–40, there would have been no difference between the left and right foot. As they were worn they would have moulded to the shape of the wearer’s feet​​​
  • An unusual bamboo and silk bag, containing a note inside stating that it was given to the recipient by her aunt in 1886. ​

Book tickets online


Free Gathering for World Peace, Glasgow, Sunday 31 January 2016
Bi Scotland History Project: Invisibility Exhibition, Govanhill Baths, 5 – 29 February, 2016

This section: Art, Photography, Exhibitions what's on-glasgow, Events, Fairs, Festivals and Fundraisers, Galleries, What's on Glasgow: Students

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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