The redecoration is fabulous. Galleries are clean and airy and the exhibits well chosen and placed. The ground floor concentrates on 20th century fashion and represents a wide range of designers and includes hats, shoes and handbags. Upstairs, the decor is Wedgwood blue, picked out in gold, to emphasize the stucco plasterwork, which is part of the original decor of the hall. The exhibits here date as far back as the 1600's and include framed examples of textiles. See www.manchestergalleries.org/.../platt-hall-gallery-of-costume for further information in a comprehensive website divided into collecton themes such as Designers, Clothes for Work, Recycled Fashion and Materials and Making for examples.
I'll write some further posts about the collection, but at the moment, I'm concentrating on 'Knitted Elegance', which is currently showing as a special exhibition but ends 2 June 2013. There are pieces from most of the decades of the 20th-21st centuries on display with a mix of hand and machine knit, constructed in a broad range of materials, from synthetic through to natural fibres. Featured designers include Missoni, Westwood, Hilfiger etc .... I was so pleased that my photographs turned out well. I've listed each exhibit below.
Peruvian Wool Dress. Rene Dmytrenko, 1976. Shetland wool, A-Line. Knitted on a domestic knitting machine by a craft knitter in Todmorden, Lancs. In horizontal bands - Llamas, dogs, birds and men. High waisted, wide skirt, labelled, 'An Original by Rene'. Worn by the textile conservator at Platt Hall in the 70's.
Black wool cocktail mini. Alice Temperley, mid 2000's. Openwork large diamonds with wide boat neck. For glamorous evening events. Labelled, 'Alice Temperley, London'. Company launched in 2000 when she was 25. She often chooses to use knitting in her fashion collections.
Mondrian. 1980, Yves Saint Laurent. Wool jersey in blocks of primary colours. House of YSL re-issued the 60's look using machine knit instead of woven wool. Labelled, 'Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche'.
Vivienne Westwood. Mid 1990's. Short cocktail dress, knitted in hairy mohair, brushed with gold in painterly splodges. Deep 'V' shapes at front and back necklines. Pink cotton jersey lining.
Missoni Trouser Suit. Early 2000's. Machine knitted rayon. Open work with wide 'V' at front and back, with tiny cap sleeves. Flared, scalloped hems on trousers. Labelled, 'Missoni - Made in Italy'. Purchased at a Manchester Dress Agency.
Jane Sarkar. 1985. Knitted on a domestic machine in horizontal panels of Fair Isle. Right shoulder knotted, left twisted and fastened with silver coloured buttons. Jane Sarkar is a north-west based designer, who started work in 1983. This is an early creation acquired in 1986.
Black cocktail dress with perspex discs. Sonia Rykiel, 2012. Retro mini dress in machine knitted cotton. Opaque black perspex discs. Labelled, 'Sonia by Sonia Rykiel'. She is known as, 'The Queen of Knitwear' and started out in the 60's.
Striped dress, Coast, late 2000's. Machine knit.
Dark brown cocktail dress with cerise band. Bitte Kai Rand, 2012. Machine knit stocking stitch. A Copenhagen, Danish company founded in 1981. Now the premier Scandinavian fashion house with branches all over Europe.
Monsoon, 1986. Jacquard design of flowers and stylized geometric motifs. Bought for £55 by the gallery from Monsoon in Manchester.
Hilfiger denim. 2012, camel coloured wool/viscose fitted shift dress. Machine knitted to resemble handknit. Contrast at neck simulates an under vest.
Claret Top and Black Skirt. 2001. Maria Grachvogel. Knitted cashmere top, trimmed with ostrich feathers. Black silk crepe skirt. Labelled 'Maria Grachvogel'. She launched the label in 1999 aged 21. Internationally known now since her catwalk show of 2001 when Victoria Beckham modelled.
Gold trim cocktail dress. Early 60's. Machine knitted with spotted allover bugle beads. Gold interlocking bow reminiscent of Schiaparellis knitwear. Figure hugging and fully lined.
Moschino. Jumper dress, machine knit in pure new wool. Labelled, 'Moschino Cheap and Chic', 1988.
Contemporary artists have provided their response in an upstairs room.
There's a hanging display of knitted nets and a sound installation plays chattering voices which conclude with,
'We knit, we stitch, we unwind ...'
The continuous loop is effective. A piece of knitting lies on a large wooden spool, ready for visitors to add their contribution and I couldn't help but leave a few rows of stocking stitch behind me ...