Norwich Dragon Hall unleashes Dressing the Decades fashion fun

By Ben Miller | 02 March 2011
A photo of four women in fashion dresses and outfits standing on a street pavement
Late 1960s fashion, straight from the mean streets of Norwich
Exhibition: Dressing the Decades, Dragon Hall, Norwich, March 5-18 2011

From taffeta, circle skirts and nylon in 1950s to the exuberance of the 1960s, the flares which drooped like drainpipes on 1970s posers and the shoulder pads, power suits and gaudy bling of the 1980s, looking back on fashion through the decades can be cringeworthy fun.

A black and white photo of two tall ladies in fashionable dresses
Fun 1940s fashions featuring the decade’s first platform soles
Few are as well-placed to present it as the devotees behind the Norwich Costume and Textile Association, who have made a display for each decade on the 20th century for this gleeful gauntlet across history, contextualised by the events and social influences of each era under the ancient Dragon Hall beams.

“The building was originally built as a trading warehouse by Robert Toppes,” reflects Stephanie Potts, the General Manager of the building.

“Much of his trade was in textiles, so it’s wholly appropriate for us to display historical fashion items. With the workshops we will also be helping people to create their own individual retro fashion items.”

Barbara Coe, of the Costume and Textile Association, pledges the display won’t shirk from complementing triumph with tragedy.

A photo of a woman in a leopard skin dress stepping out of a door in the 1960s
Leopard print wool coat from the 1950s
“Our members have raided their vintage collections to put together fascinating displays from each decade from the 1900s to the 1980s, showing the development of fashions and fabrics,” she says.

“There are plenty of fabulous frocks – and a few fashion faux pas, too.”

  • Open 10am-4pm. Admission £3.50/£1 (free for under-5s).
  • A programme of events accompanies the show – visit the show online for details.
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