200 Years Of Fashion At Museum Of Brands And Packaging

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 21 November 2006
old illustrated advert showing an elegantly dressed woman wearing shoes with goodyear stick on soles

© Museum of Brands and Packaging

The Museum of Brands and Packaging opens its first exhibition since moving to new premises in London with a look the last 200 years of graphic styles to be found in advertising.

All Consuming Styles runs at the museum until February 28 2007 and focuses on the graphic styles of daily fashion – as visualised in the ever changing world of advertising and packaging design.

The exhibition is a mine of contemporary advertisements, promotional material, magazines and a variety of social ephemera ranging from the packing used to promote velvet skin tablets to packaging for cream crackers.

old illustrated advert showing a woman swooning at a man riding past on a triumph motorbike

© Museum of Brands and Packaging

Through these items the variety and diversity of fashion is illustrated, with each era being accompanied by information about its social context to add a further flavour of the time.

During Victorian times song sheets widely recorded the arrival of the latest fashions of the day such as bloomers and the crinoline skirt. Later in the Edwardian period, the picture postcard ridiculed the new outfits that were developed for motoring and the arrival of the harem skirt.

By the 1920s the arrival of the young flappers manifested itself in a wide range of advertising design, while the 1940s wartime period was awash with magazine covers depicting patriotic girls doing their duty.

old illustrated advert showing a woman in a yellow dress and big yellow hat sat in a punt on a river drinking a glass of vitacrush

© Museum of Brands and Packaging

The 1950s, with its plethora of advertising imagery showing happy housewives testing the latest kitchen gadget or embracing the new DIY era, was the last great heyday of commercial art and from the 1960s the photographic image began to proliferate.

Many of the images are of course highly idealised but it is still possible to see throughout the displays the changes in women’s roles – from the domestic servant, suffragette and WWI factory girl to the supposedly liberated time that followed the Swinging Sixties.

The exhibition concludes with a vibrant display of fashion magazines of the last two centuries that concentrates the evolving art and fashion styles into one great evolutionary sweep.

Home to thousands of items, the museum celebrates and explores our consumer society through the everyday items that we take for granted – from motorcars, sweet wrappers, televisions and branded groceries.

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