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An English Lady’s Wardrobe

Start Date 25 October 2019
End Date 01 March 2020
Venue Walker Art Gallery
Location Liverpool, UK
Curator Pauline Rushton
Exhibition display of dressed mannequins, some of children on green plinth

More than 70 outfits were on display in this major exhibition, which explored shopping and style in Liverpool during the interwar years. ‘An English lady’s wardrobe’ offered new insight into Liverpool’s wealthy Tinne family, showcasing clothing and accessories purchased by Mrs Emily Margaret Tinne (1886-1966). 

The Tinne Collection is the largest collection of a single person’s clothing in any UK gallery. The Walker has displayed numerous items from the collection over recent years, but ‘An English lady’s wardrobe’ was the largest exhibition yet. In addition to Emily Tinne’s clothing, it featured costumes belonging to her children as well as outfits worn by the family’s servants. 

The Walker was given access to a large number of letters written by members of the Tinne family, revealing new information about their lives.  

“The Tinne Collection provides a wonderful snapshot of life in a middle-class Liverpool family between the First and Second World Wars. The inclusion of photographs of the family home, along with personal letters, means that visitors will really get to know the Tinnes through the exhibition.” Pauline Rushton, Senior Curator  

The exhibition featured daywear, evening dresses, outdoor wear, underwear and accessories, including jewellery, shoes, handbags and an impressive selection of hats. Much of the clothing on display dates from 1910 to 1939, reflecting the changing styles of the period.  

Emily Tinne’s love of shopping was extraordinary, and her vast wardrobe transports us back to a very different Liverpool. From the prestigious, Parisian-inspired department stores providing made-to-measure services, to the highly skilled tailors, milliners and shoemakers, Liverpool was well equipped to cater to the needs of the wealthy elite living in Britain’s greatest port city. 

Central to the exhibition was a focus on the Liverpool ladies’ outfitters and department stores where many of the outfits were purchased, including Cripps on Bold Street, the Bon Marché and George Henry Lee’s on Church Street and Basnett Street, Owen Owen Ltd in Clayton Square and Lewis’s on Ranelagh Street.


Image courtesy of the Walker Art Gallery