This dynamic exhibition and flexible engagement space supports our ambition to reimagine the costume and dress collection. Bringing this important resource into the heart of the city means that we can show it in the context of the wider collection and as an integral part of the story of art and culture.

Through annual exhibitions, the new Fashion Gallery explores and highlights the breadth of the costume and dress collection. Manchester Art Gallery has one of the largest British collections of fashion and clothing, dating from the early 17th century to the present day. Particular strengths comprise 18th century women’s clothing and children’s costume, 19th century middle-class and ordinary dress, sportswear and occupational clothes. The collection has recently concentrated on acquiring Manchester-labelled clothing, recent top-end couture and menswear.

The Fashion Gallery’s inaugural show is Dandy Style: 250 years of British Men’s Fashion. Highlighting a wide range of examples from the collection, augmented with loans and fine art as equal participants, the show ranges over two major galleries, entitled the Tailored Dandy and the Decorated Dandy. It explores elegance, uniformity and spectacle from the 18th century to the present day.

Artists exhibited include Thomas Gainsborough, Thomas Lawrence, David Hockney and Lubaina Himid, the photographers David Bailey, Jason Evans and  Olivia Rose, and the fashion designers Tommy Nutter, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen and Ozwald Boateng. Drawing contrasts and comparisons between fashion, paintings and photography, and melding the historic with the contemporary, the provocative with the respectable, the exhibition considers key themes in the development of male style, image and identity. 

The creation of the Fashion Gallery has been made possible through the very generous support of The Clothworkers’ Company and The Jack Livingstone Charitable Trust and is sponsored by Edward Bulmer Natural Paint.