c/o Martin Pel: Costume Curator – Monday to Wednesday
Brighton Museum dress collection has built up since the museum opened and specifically since the late 1960s.The Fashion and Style Gallery first opened in 1981. The collection now features 1000's of garments and accessories from the 18th century to the present day with a good collection of 1950s evening English couture gowns and an even rarer collection of renegade dress. The collection aims to reflect both the sartorial character of the locality of Brighton and its surroundings as well as raising national/international dress themes and debates. The Fashion Gallery houses the permanent exhibition and also holds major, temporary, fashion exhibitions. These have included Mariano Fortuny in 1978, Fashion and Fancy Dress - the dress of six generation of the Messel Family, 2005-6, Little Black Dress, 2007,and Land Girls - Cinderellas of the Soil 2008-9. In 2002 the museum established a research project on local renegade dress, collecting over fifty examples of clothes, artefacts and oral testimony memories from Teddy Boys to Travellers. The resulting collection of outfits is on permanent display in the Fashion & Style gallery and spans over 50 years.
Brighton Museum also cares for a collection of ethnographic dress, some of it on display in the World Art Gallery. This features world dress, textiles and masks from the Shan States of Burma, Papua New Guinea and African cloths from late 19th Sierra Leone, for example.
In June/July 2011 Couture Brighton has been shown in the Fashion Gallery whilst Dress for Excess (till Feb.5th 2012) is an intervention display scattered through the salons of the Royal Pavilion. This celebrates the 200th anniversary of the Regency Act by looking at the life of George IV as Prince, Regent and King through fashions of the late Georgian period. Men’s and women’s costumes are displayed throughout the palace exploring themes from George’s life and the stylistic influences of the period. A new exhibition space, the Prince Regent Gallery, is dedicated to George and also shows items of dress he wore, from a beautifully printed banyan of the 1770s to his huge breeches worn towards the end of his life. The most spectacular item is George’s extravagant coronation robe, on loan from Madame Tussauds, Merlin Entertainments Group and not seen in public for 30 years.