Days OutFashion + Beauty

Worthing Museum and Art Gallery Launches Second Phase of Town-Wide Costume Trail

The latest incarnation of Worthing Museum and Art Gallery’s prestigious costume trail is now underway, with nine new heritage costumes showcased across Worthing, as well as an original 1930s Chanel dress at the museum.

Worthing museum is home to one of the largest costume collections in the UK, featuring over 30,000 different items;  the trail, which launched in October 2016 and continues until summer 2018, places pieces from the collection in popular public places.

Northbrook Metropolitan College has become the latest local organisation to host a museum showcase. The college’s case features a homemade 1965 Op-Art dress with a matching cape.


Each of the costumes on display throughout the trail, which has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund with support from the South East Museums Development Fund,  reveals a piece of history. The tarlatan walking dress, produced in 1845, is the oldest on the trail and has been displayed at the sea-side Pavilion Theatre owing to its seaweed and coral-like pattern. Other items on the trail include a 1915 homemade three-piece day dress, two wedding dresses, a nurse’s uniform and three evening dresses.

Complementing the trail is a 1932 Chanel evening dress made of blue silk tulle with small matching sequins, currently on loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum, to which it was given by Loelia, Duchess of Westminster. The dress, as with many of Coco Chanel’s designs, inspired mass-produced copies, one of which is on display alongside the Chanel dress in the museum.

Working in collaboration with local community interest group Men In Sheds, a Secret Gallery has also been installed within the museum as part of the update. The gallery features a series of wardrobe-style doors which can be opened to reveal artwork inspired by the museum’s costume collection.

Creative Waves Community Arts, local school children, college students and community groups have similarly been involved, creating artwork and decorating cases on the trail as well as within the museum galleries and garden.


Gerry Connolly, Senior Curator of Worthing Museum & Art Gallery, says: “Following the success of the first phase of the trail we are very excited to have released the new map which will lead people to our fabulous historic costumes in some of the town’s favourite organisations. I’d encourage everyone to pick up a new map, enjoy the trail then come to visit us at the museum where we have more wonderful costumes on display.”

Cllr Dr Heather Mercer, Executive Member for Customer Services for Worthing Borough Council with the museum in her portfolio, says: “The public’s response to the costume trail has been amazing. The engagement of visitors, residents and the trail’s supporting venues’ staff has been fantastic. One new resident even used the trail map to familiarise herself with the local area, which is a real testament to the breadth of the trail and the accessibility of the venues involved.”

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