Plymouth’s first-ever dedicated fashion exhibition highlights centuries of stories

Plymouth’s first-ever dedicated fashion exhibition highlights centuries of stories

2 April 2022

An exhibition, now on display at The Box, is paying homage to the city’s fashion past and future. ‘Dress Code – Fashion Stories from The Box’ (until 4 September) features garments that date back to the 1700s and accessories that date back to the 1500s, and explores contemporary conversations about identity, sustainability, shopping, design, making and craft.

The exhibition marks the very first time the city has staged a show dedicated to fashion, with highlights from The Box’s fascinating costume and textile collection displayed alongside paintings, drawings, film and archival material to tell important local and international stories.

A paper dress from the 1960s foretells the future of fast fashion, while a 300 year old silk gown tells the story of the global textile trade. A new hand-made green, black and white latex dress titled ‘Brand Me – Flag Me’ has been created thanks to a unique collaboration with Plymouth-based Westward Bound, to represent the past and present of garment production in the city and make a bold contemporary statement.

The 'Brand Me Flag Me' dress on display in 'Dress Code' at The Box

Terah Walkup, Curator of Art at The Box said:

Realising this exhibition and the partnerships that ‘Dress Code’ has involved has been a dream come true. I’m proud to have created an exhibition that showcases historic garments alongside a new contemporary acquisition, and to be able to give The Box’s visitors a rare glimpse into the breadth of our collection. The exhibition has already sparked so many conversations from local memories to new interpretations by current fashion students. I’m enjoying seeing so many visitors chatting about and sketching what’s on display.

Elsewhere in ‘Dress Code’, visitors can see beautiful silk dresses from the 1700s, accessories from the Victorian era, a glass bead dress from the ‘roaring twenties’ and garments representing the ‘make do and mend’ ethos of the post-war period. The role fashion has played in global trade and the contribution made by some of Plymouth’s most well-known garment manufacturers of the recent past are also explored.

1920 case in the 'Dress Code' exhibition

Little Black Dress was created in 2000 by Italian artist Maurizio Anzeri who is presenting a range of works in spaces around The Box until the autumn completes the exhibition. The wearable sculpture was made for and worn by the iconic fashion editor Isabella Blow.

Victoria Pomery, CEO at The Box said:

The crossover between fashion and art has always been extremely strong so we’re delighted to be showing Maurizio Anzeri’s sculptural dress within ‘Dress Code’. It’s also a bit of a coup for us as it’s the first time Maurizio has shown this work in a public exhibition.

Garments from Dents on display in 'Dress Code'

The Box will host a series of informal Bitesize talks connected to the exhibition on selected dates during the summer. The talks are free although advance booking is required. ‘Identity Parade’, a fashion show delivered in partnership with Plymouth’s Barbican Theatre and featuring creatives and fashionistas from the South West will take place at The Box on 27 May.