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Thirsty for Fashion

Start Date 11 February 2023
End Date 05 November 2023
Venue Killerton House
Location Devon, England
Curator Shelley Tobin
Group of mannequins in historical clothing
Corset placed on a white plinth.
Female child mannequin wearing a floral dress.

Reused, remodelled and recycled fashion through the ages is being showcased by the National Trust. 

Killerton House, near Exeter, is displaying more than 50 items from the trust’s largest fashion collection. 

Thirsty for Fashion highlights the techniques used to repair, remodel, reuse and re-wear clothing from the 18th Century to the present day. 

Highlights include a child’s dress made of precious silk brocade, recycled from an adult’s silk gown in about 1750. 

 Shelley Tobin, costume curator at Killerton, said: “Recycling and reusing clothing is not a new idea but something that has been commonplace throughout history. 

“This exhibition asks the question – can we learn lessons from these past practices and reapply forgotten skills to looking after our clothes and make them more sustainable?” 

The exhibition will also feature vintage films from the 1940s and 1950s with advice on how to ‘make do and mend’. 

Also on show is a sumptuous silk wedding gown from about 1840 remodelled to re-wear in the 1940s and an embroidered parachute silk nightdress made in 1944 when clothing and material were rationed. The exhibition also features contemporary designers and makers, with 12 works by six designers showing just some of the ways that designers today are refashioning surplus stock to produce new clothing with no waste going to landfill.

Thirsty for Fashion will run from 11 February to 5 November 2023. 

Images courtesy of Killteron House. Photos: Steve Haywood.