Savage Style: Costumes from Lily's Wardrobe at the Walker and Museum of Liverpool

By Culture24 Reporter | 17 October 2011
A close up photo of a man dressed as a woman in a large white wig
© Nicky Johnstone
Exhibition: Savage Style: Costumes from Lily's Wardrobe, Walker Art Gallery and Museum of Liverpool, Liverpool, November 4 2011 – February 19 2012

Even by the high style standards set by the Walker, Lily Savage takes some outdonning.

Paul O'Grady's embittered housewife and occasional shoplifter holds a sequined snow leopard pink skirt suit and a gold bingo-themed column dress among her sartorial shiners, as well as a pink satin and black net number, a pale blue and silver ball gown (worn on Blankety Blank) and a red beaded column dress with matching cape (for her appearance as the Wicked Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs).

"This is a great opportunity to get close to these outfits and appreciate their qualities," says Reyahn King, the director of the galleries.

"Lily Savage is one of the great comic creations and it is a delight to have these stunning costumes among our collections."

O'Grady may be better known for the primetime chat shows he hosts in the real-life guise he was born in back in Birkenhead in the late 1970s, but he spawned his cacophonous alter-ego after moving to London to become a social worker in the late 1970s, establishing a devoted following during the 1980s.

By 1994 – when several of the 11 costumes the 6ft-plus mannequins will be showing off here are taken from – he/she had a regular spot at the London Palladium, evolving into a spell as celebrity interviewer on Channel 4 morning hellraiser The Big Breakfast and a number of spin-off solo shows.

O'Grady retired Savage to a French convent in 2004, before restoring her to the boards for appearances as Widow Twankey in Aladdin last Christmas.

The costumes go on display as part of this year's Homotopia, Liverpool's international festival of queer arts and culture.

More pictures from the show:

A photo of a man dressed as a woman at an ironing board
Dogs and ironing boards are left in the shadows of some glamorous costumes
© Nicky Johnstone
A photo of a man dressed as an evil queen in a pantomime
Outfits worn by Savage in her pantomime stints embellish the sense of theatricality
© Nils Jorgensen / Rex Features
More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned: