Every year, Bath Spa University in association with Bath Business Improvement District, hold a week long celebration of fashion both past, present and future called Bath In Fashion. With Bath Spa University hosting one of the most renowned Fashion Design degrees in the country, and having the Fashion Museum in the town, it is no wonder that such destination is a hub of creativity. This year, Bath in Fashion hosted several wonderful and exciting workshops, catwalk shows and talks with some of the most highly respected figures in the fashion industry, from Hilary Alexander to Barbara Hulanicki.
Although I hail from London, my passion and desire to continue my journey into the fashion industry led me to attend at least one event of Bath In Fashion. On the final day of the week, Saturday 10th May, Bath In Fashion held a free talk - Fashion Your Future - with an esteemed panel of guests. I decided that this was the most relevant event for me to attend as all the guests excelled in varying aspects of the fashion industry, which I thought would give me a well rounded and eclectic insight into what my future in fashion could entail. Kindly, my Mum and Step-Dad drove me the 2 hour journey to Bath for the talk, which was really inspiring and probably one of the best panel discussions I've attended, leading me to leave feeling positive and hopeful for my future in fashion. The panel consisted of three 2012 Bath Spa Fashion Design graduates, who were now interning or working in the fashion industry, alongside Topman Design Director Gordon Richardson, Fashion Writer, stylist and curator Iain R Webb, Fashion Publicist Mandi Lennard and SHOWstudio Editor Lou Stoppard. All the guests had very different paths, yet each had very valuable advice that I will definitely be keeping in mind.
After the talk, and a quick lunch, I decided to take a trip to the Fashion Museum, also known as Museum of Costume. Although in London, we are incredibly fortunate to have free entry to most of the museums and galleries, in Bath there is an entrance fee of £8, which allows access to the assembly rooms, the Fashion Museum and the option to use the talking guide. As I wanted to make the most of my time in Bath and at the Museum, I decided to use the talking guide, and I am so glad I did.
Opting for the audio guide was a great idea as it really gave more detail into each piece of the museum. The first exhibition was the Georgians, and it took the viewer through the fashion of the 18th contrary period, from the reigns of King George I to King George IV. It was interesting to see how clothing for both men and women developed in this period, and how the cultural and social happenings of the time affected dress - something that I am really interested in. I particularly liked the section that illustrated how fashion in the Georgian period was still influencing contemporary designs from the likes of Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood.
Georgian inspired dress by Vivienne Westwood
Following on from here was the opportunity to dress up as a Victorian in corsets, crinolines and dresses based on authentic archived pieces. Unfortunately, as I was alone, I didn't participate!
My favourite section of the museum was the 'Behind The Scenes' exhibition, that enabled guests to see how the archive was organised and also took you on a journey of Victorian fashion, a period that I am really interested in due to the gothic elements seen in the fashion of the time. Unlike other museums, where the archives and behind the scenes goings-on are a mystery, it was refreshing to see how the museum works. My highlight of the section was viewing one of Queen Victoria's black gowns, as seen below. Of all the royals, I feel that Queen Victoria was my favourite and the Victorian period is one of my favourites for fashion and architecture. Another revolutionary and exciting part of the Fashion Museum in Bath is the Study Facilities, that enable you to book a table and request to view any piece of clothing from the archive, free of charge. Although you have to book ahead, it is a free service that I can see myself using in the future! To find out more about the Study Facilities, have a look at their website here.
Directly after this exhibition, you are taken on a whirlwind journey of the fashion of the 20th century, from the flapper style in the twenties, to the swinging sixties and boho seventies, right up until the grungey nineties. Following on from this section was the penultimate exhibition, focusing on the retrospective of the brand Bellville Sassoon Lorcan Mullany. The threesome of designers made dresses for Princess Diana, among other highly esteemed clients. Seeing the intricate detailing that goes into couture evening and cocktail dresses was fascinating and the craftsmanship was overtly evident.
The final exhibition of the Fashion Museum in Bath was the Dress Of The Year. Each year since 1963, when the Fashion Museum / Museum of Costume moved to Bath, famous fashion writes have been invited to select the 'Dress of the Year'. This years winner, seen below, is the creation of Christopher Kane as chosen by blogging sensation Susie Bubble of Style Bubble . I think the use of a blogger as a judge really makes this competition relevant and modern, and shows the evolution of fashion, as well as respecting the change and influence that the internet and social media have on fashion today. Previous winners of this title include Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Largerfeld, Vivienne Westwood and so on.
Christopher Kane's 'Dress of the Year' as chosen by Susie Bubble
A list of all the 50 winners of the 'Dress of the Year' since it began in 1963
Early winners of the 'Dress of the Year' by Mary Quant and John Galliano
Overall, my trip to Bath for Bath in Fashion and a visit to the Fashion Museum was incredibly influential and inspiring. Not only is the city a hub of creativity, it is also a great celebration of fashion throughout the ages. In the short time I was there I learnt so much, and hope to take the inspiration and positivity with me in my fashion future. I will be posting my Bath Outfit Of The Day in the coming days so keep you style savvy eye out for that...