One of the biggest fashion galleries outside London is located at Leicestershire County Council's Snibston Discovery Park.
The £800,000 gallery allows visitors to explore the story of fashion from the 1750s to the modern day. Nearly 150 outfits from period clothing to pieces by celebrated fashion designers including Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith, Christian Dior and Biba are on display as are local items from Leicestershire's textile heyday. The displays also contain modern day clothes from major high street retailers including NEXT.
Nearly 1,000 square metres is dedicated to the story of fashion making it one of the most important fashion exhibitions outside of London and a key place for visitors, students and designers to visit.
The project came to fruition thanks to a £680,000 award from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Commenting on the importance of the award, HLF's regional manger, Sheila Stone, said: "The East Midlands used to be the hub of Britain's textile industry and Leicestershire's museums service has a wide ranging collection of costume and textiles which reflects the importance of that role.
"The collection contains many rare and fragile pieces which makes it especially exciting to see them preserved and on display and HLF is delighted to have been able to help the museum. The exhibition will undoubtedly become a vital and exceptional resource for anybody looking to learn and appreciate more about clothes and the history of fashion and textiles."
Ernie White, Lead Member for Leicestershire County Council's Community Services, said: "We are delighted and very proud to launch this fantastic new gallery which will provide an important educational resource to fashion students and an interesting insight into the fashion industry for other visitors. It is the culmination of hard work and dedication by all those involved, to showcase the important collection held and cared for by our Heritage Service and its relevance to the fashion industry and its history.
"We are particularly grateful for the sponsorship and support funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and NEXT PLC and hope that the Fashion Gallery will be a major draw to all those interested in the history of fashion and its industries."
The gallery consists of six main themed areas of interest:
Why We Wear Clothes - the many different and complex roles that clothing plays in our day-to-day lives.
The Body Transformed - how and why the fashion industry has changed the emphasis and focus on different parts of the female body over the last 300 years, including items from the Symington collection of corsetry and foundation wear.
The Fabric Lab highlights the diversity of natural and synthetic fibres and their use within the fashion industry.
The Fashion Theatre provides a unique interactive centre for the Gallery which allows the visitor to explore the themes of identity, how clothes are made and the structures of fabrics.
The Changing Room hosts a series of changing displays created from Leicestershire County Council's Heritage Service's extensive collection of historic and contemporary clothing and other important national, regional and private collections - the first of which will be 'Encounters' - world styles in western fashion.
Fashion Works - explores the changing manufacturing and retail methods of clothing employed over the last 200 years and the different levels of the fashion industry including couture, designer, boutique, contemporary high street and home made.
A 'Find out More' section provides visitors with computer access to important costume collections held around the Country, in particular those in the East Midlands, and information about careers within the industry and routes and places of study.
The Fashion Gallery is a partnership, funded by Leicestershire County Council, supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and sponsored by the fashion retailer NEXT.
Further information can be obtained from:
Snibston Discovery Park
Tel: 01530 278444
Press release and photos reproduced by kind permission.