A COLOURFUL exhibition showing how the First World War changed fashion and clothing across Worcestershire is to be held at the County Museum in Hartlebury Castle. 

Fashioning Peace: Life and Liberty after the Great War opens on Saturday, March 2 and will run until the end of the year. Part of the Worcestershire World War One Hundred programme, It will explore how the changes brought about through WW1 were reflected in clothing and fashion from 1918 through to the Roaring Twenties.

 Rachel Robinson, County Museum manager, said: “Throughout history, clothing has often reflected a person’s social and economic status and post-war fashion reflected a new and liberated mood. This exhibition is about surviving and thriving after the Great War and is reflected in the functionality and fun of the costumes on display.

“The Great War changed everything. From science and medicine to art and culture to the very core of society and its values, its effects were far reaching and dramatic. The exhibition starts with stories of scientific, medical and cultural changes brought about by the war - including a wonderful model of an aeroplane and an unsettling gas mask - before moving on to displays of costume which may seem an unlikely conduit for demonstrating change, but in fact exemplify social, economic and technological advances in a succinct and beautifully visual way.

“The struggle for women’s suffrage began long before the Great War, but it was the valiant efforts of the women and girls during the conflict that is widely regarded as being the catalyst for women gaining the right to vote in 1918. Echoing these developments, the restrictive crinoline and bustle, tailored seams and intricate boning of female costume pre-war period disappeared forever.

“ A typical 1920s dress had minimal shaping, no tailoring and hems at knee level: fashions for women were unlike anything that had gone before. It was a revolution in dress and paved the way for the modern age.

"We are delighted to be able to showcase a number of costumes from our outstanding collection and look forward to welcoming visitors to enjoy this new exhibition.”

The costumes on show are taken from the County Museum’s Tickenhill collection which contains more than 2000 items, all reflecting the changing fashions and values of the last three centuries. On the exhibition’s opening day (March 2) visitors will be able to tour the costume store as well as join in with craft activities for children, including making flapper headdresses and bow-ties.

 On Thursday, March 21 from 1pm – 2pm the museum curator will give a talk “An Introduction to the Fashioning Peace exhibition” and on Thursday, May 16, 1pm – 2pm, there will be a general talk about the costume collection, including a tour of the costume store. Talks can be booked by calling 01299 250416.