Thursday, 18 February 2016

Fashion ode to The Bowes Museum...

Is it possible to love a place so much?  Be still my beating heart, before you is a thing of true beauty.  I wanted to dedicate a post to The Bowes Museum as it is quite often featured on both my blog and my social media accounts.  The fact of the matter is that I absolutely love it and wanted to share with you my story of how it came into my life...

Okay, rewind back a couple of years and I'm ashamed to say that I'd not even heard of it.  My lovely Mister Chris has family in Barnard Castle and aside from driving past it on a cold New Years' Day before our annual family get together, I never really paid it much attention.  But as my love of fashion grew and grew, it slowly moved into my consciousness.  And it all started with Vivienne Westwood.

The 'Super Elevated Gillie'-Vivienne Westwood (Vogue online)

Vivienne Westwood was the first high-end designer that I ever loved, bought and coveted.  I still love her work; she is a revolutionary with such an incredible story and her designs are works of art.  I remember being filled with such excitement to find out that her shoe collection would be visiting The Bowes Museum in 2011 and I just had to see it.  I visited twice during it's month long run and couldn't get enough of the collection.  The gillies, the penis shoe, the coke can shoes, they all stood there right before my eyes, the whole collection in touching distance.  The Fashion and Textile gallery was the perfect setting for the outrageously wonderful collection and was my first foray into the world of the fashion exhibition-I was hooked!  I raided the gift shop and bought the exhibition catalogue, along with the cutest V&A notecards featuring a world famous pair of Roger Vivier shoes. This was long before I became a blogger, I was simply a girl feeding her fashion addiction.

Rewind a couple of years to the announcement of 'YSL-Style is Eternal'.  How exciting to have a full retrospective of Yves' work right here in the North of England.  But I'll come back to that.  By this time my love of the museum had begun to grow.  I loved wandering around its many rooms and admiring its stunning architecture, from the winding staircase to the beautiful chandeliers.  Fuelled with excitement, my lovely best friend and I took a little road trip on a sunny day in March to visit the 'Birds of Paradise:Plumes and Feathers in Fashion' (hereexhibition and to this day it is one of the most exquisite things I have ever seen.

We were particularly excited to see the Sarah Burton for McQueen work in this collection as we'd just bought our tickets to see 'Savage Beauty' at the V&A, so this was our taster.  It was the Thierry Mugler dress 'Metamorphose d'une chrysalide en femme papillon' (backless above) that really did it for me though; I love that dress so much and had it stored as my phone's wallpaper for months after my visit!

Not only did we enjoy the dresses; it was Natalie's first visit and it was so lovely to share this special place with her.  We explored every nook and cranny and got some great snaps along the way!

I loved pouring out my joy for each piece into my blog and couldn't get away from the feeling that through the museum I had experienced something really, really special.

With the arrival of YSL, I asked the lovely PR lady Sheila Dixon if I could come and review the collection for my blog and she kindly offered me two tickets to come and see it and review it on it's opening weekend (I, of course, had Natalie with me once again!).  I was so thrilled and excited to be part of it.  I researched into YSL for months leading up to the opening and couldn't wait to see his work in person.  You can read my initial review here and here.

My favourite pieces were definitely the 'Smoking Tuxedo', a look I regularly try to recreate and the SS '88 jacket in homage to the work of George Braque.  But to simply be in the same breathing space as the work of such an influential designer is something I will cherish forever.  The atmosphere that the exhibition created almost made me feel as if Yves was in the room, I think he'd definitely have approved.

I visited the exhibition three times, taking my niece, Rachel and my Mam the second time and as part of the Fashion Illustration course with Frances Moffatt the third time.  I loved seeing my family's reaction to the collection and waxing lyrical about everything I'd learnt from researching Yves' work.  And then trying my hand at Fashion Illustration was a dream come true (here).

So now I look towards the 'Shoes: Pleasure and Pain' exhibition arriving in June.  I saw it at the V&A in December but I honestly think that it will be a perfect fit for The Bowes Museum and can't wait to see how it will be arranged in the Fashion and Textile Gallery.

Through the museum I have experienced some of the world's most luxurious fashion, I've shared experiences with friends and family members, I've wandered round its grounds in awe of it's beauty and I've learned so much about fashion and fashion history in such a short space of time.  As a side note, Chris told me that his Grandad had his ashes scattered in the grounds and that a memorial bench sits behind the museum in his honour.  Chris's Nan lives almost directly opposite the museum and often visits, a way of always staying close to her beloved husband.

The Bowes Museum will always have a special place in my heart and as I ponder a distance learning course in fashion history (and I've just applied to become a Friend of the Bowes...eek!), I know I'll keep coming back time and time again to keep fuelling my love of fashion, or just to sit in the garden admiring it's beauty.

Thank you for reading


PS-I visited the gift shop again on Monday-I really couldn't help myself...



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