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Curator Alyson Pollard tells us about some of the beautiful accessories from the exhibition.


Hello, my name is Alyson Pollard and I'm a curator in the Decorative Art department. I'm going to be showing you some of the pieces that are going to be on display at The Finishing Touch exhibition at the Lady Lever Art Gallery.

Here's a little bag which has obviously been embroidered by a lady at home. She probably copied a pattern in one of the ladies' magazines at the time. It's embroidered on both sides, with cross stitch flowers as you can see. It probably will have been made in about 1850 or 1860. Bags at this time were very often small or ladies would use hidden pockets in their skirt or tied to straps that were tied around their waist to hold things that they wanted to carry around with them. It wasn't until later on that bags started to get really big.

Here's a later bag which dates from about 1935 to 1940. This one would have been a shop-made bag. It's much more modern in its design, it's a bit Art Deco and as you can see it's got a little handle. This would have been used in the evening when the lady was going out so that she could carry her make-up, lipstick or powder in it. It has a little purse in the middle which she could have put her money in if she wished. Also most bags later on obviously came with a handbag mirror, which was tucked away inside.

Here we have a pair of boots which are made from a lovely pale blue, silk, fabric. As you can see they are laced up one side, on the inside and they are made for extremely small ankles and feet. These were made in about 1830 to 1850 and at that time it was very desirable to have very small, dainty little hands and feet. This was a sign of being a lady. So ladies would cram their feet into these very tight narrow shoes.

Here is a later pair of boots from about the end of the First World War, up to 1920. As you can see they are considerably stronger in their construction and would have been suitable for a lot of everyday wear. They are almost mimicking men's boots in a way because this suede panel is almost imitating men's spats. Spats were a covering they used over the top of the shoes to cover up their laces. Just a fashion thing really. So not only have women got more sensible shoes for wearing every day, but also if they were a business woman - they were more likely to have had a job at this time - these are very business-like boots indeed.

This hat is made from horse hair and this beautiful satin fabric has been swathed around the hat and sewn down and two large swan's feathers have been added. This hat dates from about 1910 and it's rather a large hat and that's because it would have sat on a very large hair-style that was popular at the time. And to hold it in place, because we haven't got ribbons to tie under the chin, would have been a big, long, hat pin such as this one here. And hat pins at this time were huge obviously to secure hats onto their heads, but there were also stories about ladies on omnibuses using them as a weapon when someone happened to get too close to them and giving them a sharp prod with their hat pin - which would have been very unpleasant!