National Memorial Arboretum to host fashion exhibition

The influence of First World War on fashion and women’s lives will be featured in an exhibition at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire (March 9-November 30).

Called Fashion and Freedom, the exhibition has been co-commissioned by Manchester Art Gallery and 14-18 NOW, as part of a programme of First World War centenary art commissions.

Admission is included in the tickets for Landscapes of Life, a permanent exhibition at the Arboretum.

Featuring designs from Vivienne Westwood, Holly Fulton, Roksanda, J JS Lee, Emilia Wickstead and Sadie Williams, visitors to Fashion and Freedom can learn about how changing social circumstances influenced the development of a new look where tight corsets and heavy skirts were replaced by more natural and fluid silhouettes.

Sarah Oakden, head of marketing at National Memorial Arboretum, said: “Fashion and Freedom offers the opportunity for visitors to explore social history and discover the ongoing influence that the First World War has had on clothing design.

“This exciting new exhibition has previously only been exhibited in the north of England and we are delighted to be able to bring it to new audiences in the Midlands.”

Jenny Waldman, director of 14-18 NOW, said: “When we set out to create Fashion and Freedom, we wanted to look at the often-neglected impact that the First World War had on the lives of British women – the roles they took on, the freedom they gained, and the resulting shift in fashion.

“Our partners have made this an exciting and rewarding journey, and it is fantastic that visitors to the National Memorial Arboretum will have the opportunity to learn about this revolutionary period of social change.”

The Arboretum is part of The Royal British Legion and has almost 30,000 maturing trees and over 350 memorials.

Pictured: Holly Fulton © Jez Tozer