Joséphine Bowes – The Woman Of Fashion


We continue to celebrate our 125th anniversary with this new display. Building on the theme and popularity of Joséphine Bowes – A Woman of Taste and Influence, which paid tribute to the woman who was a driving force behind the Museum’s creation, this in-focus display highlights her influence as a socialite and devotee of fashion.

Three key pieces in this latest show are: 

  • A newly conserved lavender silk evening bodice worn by Joséphine, which is teamed with a specially commissioned matching skirt, reconstructed by renowned historical and theatrical costumier Luca Costigliolo. 
  • midnight-blue velvet evening jacket by the famous couturier Elsa Schiaparelli, purchased for the Museum by Hannah Jackson (Assistant Curator of Fashion and Textiles) with the aid of an Art Fund New Collecting Award, which awarded her a grant of £60,000 to invest in a capsule wardrobe of French haute couture in homage to Joséphine Bowes, herself a Frenchwoman. The fitted evening jacket was created for Schiaparelli’s autumn/winter 1937-1938 collection and is richly embroidered by Lesage, with gilt strip and cord, sequins, rhinestones and three large turquoise star shaped buttons. 
  • One of Joséphine’s blouses - an article of clothing which became very fashionable in the early 1860s, making separates an appealing trend for the first time - also features in the display.