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Exhibition of Patriotic Fashion is a Splash of Red White and Blue

Published on: 2 Aug, 2012
Updated on: 20 Aug, 2012

Visit Guildford House Gallery and see a colourful exhibition of 20th century costumes, most of which have a royal or patriotic connection.

From left: Red chiffon evening dress, ‘A’ line wedding dress, striped party dress.

The costumes are from the collection owned by Marion May of Shamley Green and the exhibition celebrates the Queen’s diamond jubilee.

All the items are either in red, white or blue. Among the costumes is a red tweed suit by Hardy Aimes and dating from 1956. He designed many outfits for the Queen.

A silk afternoon dress dates from 1923. The bodice of the dress has a panel front and back, is scalloped at the waist with bows on the hips. Low waisted dresses such as this one were vogue in the 1920s. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, married in a wedding dress designed by Madame Handley Seymour, which was almost tubular in shape.

From left: Red tweed suit by Hardy Aimes, blue lace and chiffon evening dress, silk afternoon dress.

The exhibition includes a bright red one-piece bathing suit with white braid. George VI made sea-bathing fashonanble in Brighton and Queen Victoria and all her daughters learned to swim at Osborne on the Isle of Wight. Corsets were worn under bathing costumes until the 1890s.

A simple dress, home-made from curtain material is on show.It was worn on victory day in 1919 to celebrate the end of the First World War.

From left: Blue cocktail dress, red and white bathing costume, white grosgrain wedding dress.

There is a stylish blue taffeta dance dress that dates from about 1960. During the 1960s, when this style of dress was in vogue, there were three royal weddings: Princess Margaret’s in 1960, The Duchess of Kent’s in 1961 and Princess Alexandra’s in 1963.

The exhibition also features photographs of royalty courtesy of royal photographer Jayne Fincher.

The exhibition runs at at Guildford House Gallery in the High Street until September 8 and  is free. Opening times are Monday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm.

Marion May has been staging exhibitions of costumes from her collection at Guildford House Gallery for 25 years. She now says that this will be her last. It is certainly a colourful display and is not to be missed.

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