Vogue 100: A Century of Style at Manchester Art Gallery

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
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Installation image

This is officially Manchester’s sartorial summer as the world’s most famous fashion magazine comes to town with a new and improved show.

Thanks largely to our very own Gallery of Costume, in the delightful Platt Hall at the northernmost tip of Platt Fields Park, Manchester City Galleries (the Gallery of Costume together with Manchester Art Gallery) has been allocated a generous’ grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (Collecting Cultures) and V&A purchase grant fund, and can now claim to hold one of the most important fashion collections in the UK.

The current (and rather splendid; particularly the Vivienne Westwood and Roksanda Ilincic pieces) Fashion & Freedom show at Manchester Art Gallery, however, was too large to be exhibited at Platt Hall, and the forthcoming Vogue 100: A Century of Style (24 June – 30 October) is going to be even bigger. We are especially blessed: this showcase of perhaps the magazine du mode has just finished a stint at the capital’s National Portrait Gallery, where admission cost the price of a whole weekend’s wardrobe from Primarni, or a statement necklace from COS, but we get to see the show for free – and better still, there’s more of it.

Marking a century of cutting-edge fashion and portrait photography

Vogue 100 marks a century of cutting-edge fashion and portrait photography with a display of 101 issues of the high-end glossy, one for each year of its existence, alongside 280 prints from the Condé Nast (British Vogue’s publishers) archive, featuring celebrated snappers from Lee Miller to Juergen Teller. These include brand-new portraits of the June 2016 centenary issue’s cover star, Kate Middleton, aka HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, taken by London-born photographer Josh Olins.

The Manchester version of the exhibition also boasts its own special twist: a recently acquired and newly restored Elsa Schiaparelli evening dress, of the model worn by Wallis Simpson the day before her marriage to the Duke of Windsor (otherwise known as the abdicated King Edward VIII) in May 1937. The outfit will be exhibited alongside a studio photograph of the Duchess by Cecil Beaton, published in Vogue the same year, and ties in nicely with the current Gallery of Costume offering, Schiaparelli and Thirties Fashion: the first time the legendary couturier has been on display in the rainy city.

Curator of Costume for Manchester City Galleries Dr Miles Lambert, who is helping to spend the Collecting Cultures grant by purchasing such pieces, said: “We are thrilled to have acquired a striking Elsa Schiaparelli ‘rococo scrollwork’ ensemble as chosen by Wallis Simpson for her trousseau in 1937. One of the supremely fashionable women of the 20th century, she was photographed by Cecil Beaton looking über chic in this costume after becoming the Duchess of Windsor… This is a wonderful addition to the Vogue 100 exhibition when it arrives at Manchester Art Gallery from the National Portrait Gallery in June.” We can’t wait.

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