100 years of beach fashion celebrated as DMU academic curates major London show

A new exhibition celebrating more than 100 years of beach fashion is being curated by a De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) academic.


Dr Christine Boydell is putting together the show for the Fashion and Textile Museum in London where it will take centre stage for the summer.

From the English Riviera to the Cote d’Azur, the exhibition celebrates fashion at its most fun.

With swimsuits, sarongs, brightly-patterned cover-ups, boat neck Bretons and beach pjyamas, bikinis and burkinis, the exhibition brings together more than 100 years of clothing worn in and by the sea.

Dr Boydell, whose scholarly research on Horrockses Fashions led to a resurgence of interest in the brand, identifies the changes in swim and beach wear as a reflection of the changing mores of society. She is a Design Historian at DMU who specialises in the history of dress and textiles.

She said: “Days at the beach began as a health cure, when sea air was prescribed by doctors in the Victorian era. Before the 1920s, swimming costumes were for bathing. The trend for sun bathing which emerged led to a radical change in the design of swimsuit and beach attire."


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The exhibition will feature the collections held by Leicestershire County Council and highlights the contribution of the UK design expertise to today’s global swimwear industry.

Head of the Fashion and Textile Museum, Celia Joicey said: ‘Thanks to Leicestershire County Council, the UK is guardian to one of the world’s most significant collections of swimwear.

“We are delighted to be showing these rare examples in London for the first time, and to make them accessible to as many people as possible.


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“In collaboration with Newham College and De Montfort University, we hope the exhibition will illuminate past and present swimwear fashions, and inspire future design directions in the industry.”

The Fashion and Textile Museum is the only museum in the UK dedicated to showcasing developments in contemporary fashion, as well as providing inspiration, support and training for those working in the industry.

DMU's Contour Fashion course was established in 1947 to support the local corset industry. Contour Fashion is the oldest and most successful degree-level course in intimate apparel, which includes swimwear, lingerie and nightwear, and is widely regarded by industry experts as one of the best in the world.

Posted on Thursday 15th January 2015

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