Multi-coloured 1970s dress

 Evening dress, rayon, nylon and lurex, made by Bill Gibb, 1973.

National Museums Liverpool has a large collection of Western European costume, numbering some 10,000 items and dating from about 1700 to the present day.

All aspects of male and female fashionable dress are represented, including indoor and outdoor clothing, underwear, shoes, hats and accessories. This collection is the responsibility of the Walker Art Gallery.

There is a similar-sized collection of Western European textiles, divided between the Walker Art Gallery and the Lady Lever Art Gallery at Port Sunlight. These items include tapestries, embroideries, lace and household furnishings, dating from about 1600 to the present day.

Image gallery

18th century fashion: sack-back gown, silk brocade, about 1765-70. Early 19th century fashion: day dress, printed cotton, about 1830-36. The Liverpool dressmaking trade, 1850-1950: evening dress, silk satin, marquisette net and gold lace, made by T & S Bacon, Bold Street, Liverpool, about 1911-13. Designer fashion: 1850 to the present day. Coat, waistcoat and skirt, wool and polyurethane, made by André Courrèges, Paris, 1966-1972. Street fashion: men's bondage trousers and shirt, cotton denim and cotton muslin, bought in Liverpool, 1979. Wedding dresses: wedding dress, rayon brocade, made by Henderson's department store, Church Street, Liverpool, 1960. The Tinne collection: Emily Margaret Tinne in 1910. Children's clothes: child's dress, silk brocade, about 1745-50. Fashion accessories: hat, horsehair with swan's feathers, about 1910. Pair of wedding shoes, cotton sateen and glass beads, about 1910-15. Pair of long evening gloves, kid leather, about 1900-10.


Fashion collection areas

18th century fashion

The fashion collection includes approximately 50 items of male and female dress from the 18th century. They include examples of day and evening wear, underwear, shoes, hats and other accessories.

Early 19th century fashion

There are approximately 50 garments, both male and female, dating from the period between 1800 and the 1840s. They include daywear, evening wear, outdoor wear, underwear, shoes, hats and accessories. Several rare survivals are represented, including a man's fustian suit of cotton and linen, made for a worker on a country estate during the 1830s.

The Liverpool dressmaking trade

Liverpool's 19th and 20th century dressmaking trade and clothing retail history are well-represented within the fashion collection. The bespoke dressmaking trade was at its height between 1870 and the 1930s, and was centred on Bold Street, which was known then as the 'Bond Street of the North' due to its high quality shops.

Designer fashion

Designer fashion is a growing area within the main fashion collection. It represents the work of British, European and American designers. British makers include Mary Quant, Bill Gibb, Jean Muir, John Bates, Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith, Stella McCartney, John Galliano and Ozwald Boateng. European and American designers include Christian Dior, Yves St Laurent, André Courrèges, Giorgio Armani, Gianni Versace, Dolce E Gabbana, Bill Blass and Adolpho.

Street fashion

The fashion collection includes a small but growing collection of streetwear. These garments chart the rise of sportswear as leisurewear, from the 1980s until the present day, and the development of distinctive 'style tribes', linked to music and other elements of popular culture, from the 1970s onwards. They include clothes worn by Liverpool's rock fans, New Romantics and punks, as well as examples of designer tracksuits, shell suits and trainers.

Wedding dresses

120 wedding dresses, dating from the 1850s to the present day, also form part the collection. There are also numerous bridesmaids' dresses, headdresses, veils, shoes, gloves and other wedding accessories. A smaller number of outfits worn by grooms and pageboys are also represented, together with clothes worn by wedding guests.

The Tinne collection

Between 1910 and 1940, wealthy Liverpool doctor's wife Emily Margaret Tinne (1887-1966) amassed a huge collection of clothes. At more than 750 items, the Tinne collection forms the largest group of clothes from one person's wardrobe in any UK museum. It includes numerous examples of day wear, evening wear, outdoor wear, underwear, shoes, hats and accessories, as well as the clothes of her children and servants.

Children's clothes

There are several hundred items of babywear, toddlers' clothes and older children's garments within the fashion collection. They date from the early 18th century to the 1980s and include rare items such as this young girl's dress, based on the style worn by an adult woman.

Fashion accessories

The fashion collection includes hundreds of examples of male and female dress accessories, dating from the 18th century to the present day. They include shoes, hats, gloves, collars, shawls, handbags, fans and jewellery. 
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