GEORGIANS: Dress for polite society

25 January 2014 - 1 January 2016


“…it being absolutely necessary that propriety of dress should be observed at so polite an assembly as that at Bath”. Captain William Wade, Master of Ceremonies, New Assembly Rooms Bath 1771.


The Fashion Museum’s special exhibition for 2014, GEORGIANS, celebrates the museum’s situation in the Georgian Assembly Rooms in Bath. The new exhibition will present a selection of the finest fashions worn by those attending Assemblies, and other glittering occasions of 18th century life.


An Assembly was defined at the time as “a stated and general meeting of the polite persons of both sexes for the sake of conversation, gallantry, news and play”. As Bath grew in popularity in the 18th century, there was a need for a grand Assembly Room in the fashionable upper town, and in 1771 the New Rooms, designed by John Wood the Younger and financed by public subscription, opened to the public. Today, the New Rooms are known as the Assembly Rooms and are the location of the world-famous Fashion Museum.


GEORGIANS will include over 30 original 18th century outfits and ensembles from the museum’s world-class collection, including gowns made of colourful and richly patterned woven silks, as well as embroidered coats and waistcoats worn by Georgian gentlemen of fashion.

 A highlight of the exhibition will be a trio of wide-skirted Court dresses dating from the 1750s and 1760s (held out by cane supports known as panniers, from the French word for baskets), the early years of the reign of King George III.


The Grand Finale of GEORGIANS will include 18th century-inspired fashions by five top fashion designers: Anna Sui, Meadham Kirchhoff, Vivienne Westwood, Stephen Jones, and AlexanderMcQueen. All are influenced by the 18th century aesthetic, and all (in different ways) show how the elegance and grace of Georgian dress continues to inspire fashion today.




Image: oil painting full length portrait of an 18th century gentleman in a fine red jacket with military medals, red breeches and a gold silk waistcoat, he wears a wig and holds a black hat

Oil painting full length portrait of an 18th century gentleman, Captain Wade.