A History of Fashion in 100 Objects

On display at Fashion Museum in Bath (UK) until January 2019,  A History of Fashion in 100 Objects celebrates fashion from the 1600s to the present day. Address contributor Pat Francis visited the exhibition and eventually responded to it using 100 words. 


HFx100 ID 15 1760s Fashion Museum Bath front

Yellow and gold woven silk robe à la française, 1760s. Source: Fashion Museum, Bath

What is a fashion object:  to be seen and touched, or subject of thought, or object of derision? In these 100 stars of the Fashion Museum’s collection, all aspects of ‘objects’ are evident:  ridiculous, inspiring, shocking and clearly contextualised. The events of history, politics, war, mechanisation, liberation (whether materials or convention) – all are shown. Interspersed are 10 collections of shoes/boots that accessorise our social perambulations and 10 children’s pieces which reveal the growing up of fashion or the infantilisation of women. But in the end, does fashion ever grow up or liberate? The rules are as demanding now as they always were; the processes never free the workers or the consumers. Huge questions remain – the repulsive, whole pheasant on a hat which led to Queen Alexandra leading a campaign against the over-use of exotic bird feathers which was causing the extinction of species, to the excessive plastic in the 2014 piece of Pugh. Issues of labour and thoughtless consumption: horrendous factory conditions throughout the world cannot be ignored. Although the title might seem to limit this telling of history (only 100 objects for the 500 years covered) – in fact it does the reverse. It opens up debate and intrigue – what is missing, who is missing;  how do we look back and do we look forward?


HFx100 ID 21 1780s Fashion Museum Bath

Man’s cream silk satin embroidered coat and pink silk breeches, 1780s, Source: Fashion Museum, Bath

What is an object?

I could object to some of the collection (and do), and the main purpose of my activity – the object of my intention in writing about it, is to provoke, intrigue and baffle…


Blue wool and silk boy’s frock, 1850s

Blue wool and silk boy’s frock, 1850s. Source: Fashion Museum, Bath

Four columns represent

descriptive or reflective response/object/information/date


Lemon yellow rayon jersey dress with row of domed buttons. Jean Muir, 1974

Lemon yellow rayon jersey dress with row of domed buttons. Jean Muir, 1974. Source: Fashion Museum, Bath

A Hundred History Harpings

  1. overblown, nightgown, voluminous, 1600s
  2. informal, sleeveless, waistcoat, unconventional, 1610s
  3. embroidered, nightcap, functional, 1610s
  4. three-piece, waistcoat, practical, 1690s
  5. pretty, petticoat, worn to be seen, 1690s
  6. quality, waistcoat, seems 2-Dimensional, 1700s
  7. revealing, open robe, brocade, 1730s
  8. reserved, closed robe, draw loom, 1740s
  9. shapely, man’s waistcoat, flat planels, 1740s
  10. quilted, petticoat, warm, 1740s
  11. pinned, stomacher, bold, 1740s
  12. faceless, man’s suit, traditional, 1750s
  13. hooped, open robe, movement, 1760s
  14. warming, cape mantle, swinging, 1760s
  15. loose, robe a la francaise, sacque, 1760s
  16. anonymous, man’s suit, suit, 1770s
  17. chintzy, banyan, artists/writers, 1750s
  18. fabulous, robe a la francaise, sack back, 1770s
  19. excessive, robe a la anglaise, en fourreau, 1770s
  20. pocketed, sack back dress, pocket hoops, 1770s
  21. pale-tight, man’s suit, macaroni, 1780s
  22. intolerable, stays, ‘ton – pride feels no pain’, 1780s
  23. puffed, closed gown, bouffon, 1780s
  24. labouring, man’s frock coat, Rousseau: back to nature, 1790s
  25. printed, gown, industrialisation, 1790s
  26. muslin, gown, pat tea motif, 1800
  27. neo-classical, gown, chemise de la reine, 1800
  28. woollen, gown, two-piece, 1815
  29. spotty, frock, frock not gown, 1816
  30. gauze, frock, Madras lace, 1817
  31. merino, man’s trousers, pantaloons, 1820s
  32. scalloped, cotton dress, hand to machine embroidery, 1824
  33. tea-ground, printed dress, roller printed, pale brown, 1825
  34. puffed, silk dress, leg of mutton gigot, 1835
  35. exquisite, white work collar, Ayrshire, 1830s
  36. dandy-less, man’s suit, end of dandyism, 1830s
  37. white, wedding dress, link to Queen Victoria, 1840s
  38. modest, bonnet, straw, but fabric covered, 1840s
  39. geometric, dress, huge pompoms, 1840s
  40. flouncy, dress, woven a la disposition, 1850s
  41. precise, top hat, Beaver fur, 18150s
  42. paisley, shawl, jacquard, 1850s
  43. delicate , dress, crinole, intricate, 1860s
  44. lacy, dress, Bucks Point lace, 1865
  45. hybrid, Dolman, part coat/cape pashmina, 1870s
  46. décolletage, evening dress, polonaise, 1870
  47. ruled, day dress, etiquette, 1874
  48. craped, mourning dress, rules and requirements, 1880s
  49. bustled, bustle dress, in and out of fashion, 1886
  50. aesthetic, dressing gown, Aesthetic movement, 1880s
  51. japonisme, fan, oriental influence, 1890s
  52. adornment, accessories, adorned to extinction, 1800s
  53. constructed, day dress, Worth, 1890
  54. for-best, corset, show, 1890s
  55. liberating, riding habit, New Woman, 1890s
  56. trained, court gown, Welborn of Regent Street, 1900
  57. tailored, jacket, precise tailor-made, 1905
  58. dustered, chauffeur’s coat, Alfred Dunhill Ltd, 1900s
  59. pheasanted, hat with whole bird, Queen Alexandra against, 1911
  60. symbolic, parasol, belonged to suffragette, 1912
  61. Titanic, wedding dress, Lucile – Lady Duff Gordon, 1908
  62. utilitarian, nurse’s apron, timeless, 1914
  63. ankled, coat and skirt, Dickens & Jones 1st ankle, 1916
  64. fiery, fancy dress, flames of hell, 1927
  65. beadjangled, beaded dress, Paquin, 1927
  66. chiche, cloche hat, chic and fitted, 1928
  67. absurd, beach pyjamas, silky, 1929
  68. cross grained, evening gown, Donguy, 1930s
  69. suave, man’s evening dress, tuxedo, 1930s
  70. ostentatious, fur coat, Molyneux mink, 1930s
  71. synthetic, wedding dress, new material, 1940
  72. celebratory, party dress, bolero for VE party, 1945
  73. rational, Utility suit, regulated, 1947
  74. flamboyant, New Look suit, Dior, 1947
  75. starry, jacket, Lelong for Vivien Leigh, 1948
  76. idealised, fashion doll, Miss Virginia Lachasse, 1954
  77. exposed, dancing dress, halter neck, 1954
  78. home made, crochet blouse, Coats pattern, 1950s
  79. flirty, nylon petticoat, lingerie, 1950s
  80. noisy, beaded dress, Hartnell/Elizabeth Taylor, 1958
  81. naughty, knickerbocker dress, youthquake Mary Quant, 1961
  82. arty, Mondrian dress, YSL for Fonteyn, 1965
  83. dapper, man’s suit, Blades/Fish for Roy Strong, 1968
  84. inappropriate, beach wear, acrylic crochet, 1969
  85. classic, dress, Jean Muir rayon jersey, 1974
  86. bifurcated, trouser suit, Missoni, 1970s
  87. celebrity, ballgown, The Emmanuels, 1982
  88. ubiquitous, jeans, Fiorucci, 1983
  89. bombshell, man’s coat, Blitz Willie Brown, 1980
  90. leggy, man’s jacket & shorts, JPG, 1991
  91. patriotic, evening dress, Lauren, 1991
  92. must-have, newsprint gloves, Galliano, 2000
  93. shorted, man’s suit/shorts, Thom Browne, 2006
  94. bodycon, Galaxy dress, Mouret, 2015
  95. hyper-fruity, head piece, Piers Atkinson’s cherries, 2015
  96. confectionery, evening dress, Sarah Burton for McQueen, 2011
  97. retro, embroidered dress, Raf Simons, 2012
  98. taped, Applique dress, Christopher Kane, 2013
  99. shrink wrapped, plastic ensemble, Gareth Pugh, 2014
  100. ungendered, quilted ensembles, Craig Green, 2015


HFx100 ID 99 2014 Fashion Museum Bath

Iridescent layered plastic ensemble, Gareth Pugh. Source: Fashion Museum, Bath