The Bowes Museum > Exhibitions > 2017 > Joséphine Bowes – The Woman Of Fashion

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.

The Bowes Museum grounds are open!


Due to the government announcement on Thursday 17 December, that County Durham is to remain in COVID tier 3 restrictions, The Bowes Museum unfortunately will remain closed to all visitors. However, the grounds remain open to visitors from 10.00 - 4.00 daily, and we are currently hosting a woodland fairy trail, two spring trails and outdoor guided tours are available from 29 March 2021.

As we have already been shut for a number of weeks and there is much uncertainty around possible further restrictions, we have decided to use this period to undertake some work in Café Bowes, alongside performing some much-needed structural repairs to the building, notably to the windows. January and February are usually quieter times for the Museum, often due to severe weather, so we believe that this is the best time to carry out such works with the least amount of disruption to our visitors.

We have therefore decided to remain closed for a period of four weeks following any near-future tier 2 announcement from the government, as this will allow us time to deep clean the Museum prior to reopening our doors once again. We will, of course, keep you updated as the guidelines change.

Your ongoing support during these unprecedented times is hugely appreciated and we very much look forward to welcoming you back into the building as early as possible in 2021.

We hope to be able to offer a few COVID-safe outdoor events over the coming months, about which we shall make further announcements as soon as possible.