Autumn Visit To The Galleries of Manchester

Back in June I received notification of this locally organised trip and, October being a pretty ‘clear’ month, I decided to book the day out. In the end it came hot on the heels of the Edinburgh 48 hour ‘day out’.

“Autumn Visit to the Galleries of Manchester.
Wednesday 12th October 2016

Manchester, or “Cottonopolis” was one of the great cities of Victorian England. That wealth is reflected to-day in the magnificent art collections housed in the city galleries.

This trip will take you to Platt Hall, (opened especially for WYAF) an 18th century mansion, now housing a world-class costume collection. The current exhibition is devoted to Elsa Schiaparelli, renowned for her flamboyant and extraordinary clothes in the 1930s. For the fashionista Platt Hall has many wonders, not least the Meredith Collection of Buttons.

On from there to the revamped Whitworth Art Gallery (Art Fund Gallery of the Year 2015) to view the new developments and the current exhibition.

And more fashion at Manchester City Art Gallery, where, in addition to the permanent collection, there
is a show “Vogue 100: A Century of Style” celebrating all the glamorous people photographed for
Vogue since 1916. Also an exhibition “Fashion and Freedom”, tracing changes in dress since the
First World War.”


Platt Hall Gallery of Costume

We had an earlyish start and our coach hit bad traffic jams coming into Manchester so we were somewhat delayed arriving at the first stop – Platt Hall in Platt Fields Park. Platt Hall House and Estate had formerly belonged to a branch of the Worsley family of Yorkshire.


Deborah Worsley, the heiress, who rebuilt the house in 1762-64

The external façade of the 1760s House is by John Carr of York but his plans for the interior was unacceptable and local architect Timothy Lightowler adapted these for the family. In 1907 the City Council bought the estate and by 1925 the Art Gallery had been established there. It became a Gallery of English Costume in 1947 through the major acquisition of a private collection assembled by Dr C Willett Cunnington and his wife Phillis.

cunnington-1 cunnington-2

Tea and cake were provided by the curator who seemed to have to turn her hand to everything although I think someone else was there to help in the shop. She introduced us briefly to the museum collection and explained that one of the Schiaparelli collection of gowns – a recently acquired and newly restored Elsa Schiaparelli evening dress, of the model worn by Wallis Simpson the day before her marriage to the Duke of Windsor – was currently on display at the main Art Gallery as part of the Vogue 100 show. Read more about the Schiaparelli displays and see more pictures here.

schiaparelli-1 schiaparelli-2 schiaparelli-3 schiaparelli-4

We were then encouraged to take the rest of the time to view the exhibits (and we all drifted into the shop near the end, too) before moving on the The Whitworth Gallery, nearer the city centre.


The Whitworth Gallery, University of Manchester

Earlier this year I visited the Whitworth Gallery to see the Tibor Reich exhibition. The Gallery is part of the University of Manchester and has been recently refurbished and has a new restaurant. Like the Platt The Whitworth is also located in a park, much more central to the city. Instead of rushing round to view the latest shows and revisit the permanent collection I decided to have lunch in the Cafe and take a walk round the park where the larger sculptures are displayed. The really excellent free guide to the gallery includes ‘A walk in the park’ description subtitled ‘A walk through the wildlife and the art of the Whitworth Park’. Some of the park near to the gallery is currently closed due to ongoing works but it’s easy enough to pick up the route; besides there’s a handy map at the back of the brochure.


The Cafe Between the Trees


Anya Gallacio’s Installation amongst the trees

The Whitworth Gallery has a really excellent shop divided into two spaces just inside the entrance where I noticed (amongst lots of other beautiful books and things) my friend’s daughter’s very tactile work prominently on display.


Jill Shaddock‘s Pots

Our final visit of the day was to The Manchester Art Gallery right in the heart of the city and which seemed to be having every street dug up around it. Here we enjoyed, probably, the highlight of the day – Vogue 100: a century of style.




On the left is the extent of the shop – the main gallery shop is closed over the next couple of weeks

No photography was allowed inside the show but here is the gallery’s introduction :

Direct from the National Portrait Gallery, London, Vogue 100: A Century of Style is a major exhibition celebrating 100 years of cutting-edge fashion, beauty and portrait photography by British Vogue.

Vogue 100: A Century of Style showcases the remarkable range of photography that has been commissioned by British Vogue since it was founded in 1916, with over 280 prints from the Condé Nast archive and international collections being brought together for the first time to tell the story of one of the most influential fashion magazines in the world.

Featuring iconic images of many of the faces that have shaped the cultural landscape of the twentieth century, from Henri Matisse to Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Damien Hirst; Marlene Dietrich to Gwyneth Paltrow; Lady Diana Cooper to Lady Diana Spencer; and Fred Astaire to David Beckham. Also featured in the exhibition are the fashion designers that defined the looks of the century, including Dior, Saint Laurent and McQueen.

The exhibition brings together vintage prints from the early twentieth century, ground-breaking photographs from renowned fashion shoots, unpublished work and original magazines. Images by leading twentieth-century photographers, including Cecil Beaton, Lee Miller, Irving Penn and Snowdon will feature alongside more recent work by David Bailey, Corinne Day, Patrick Demarchelier, Nick Knight, Herb Ritts and Mario Testino.”

We were very lucky to have the chance to see this top London exhibition and entrance is free to all. It must have been quite a job to choose a single issue for each year and the covers of these were displayed down the middle of the gallery. There is also an audio guide which can download for free.

From Tesco opposite the Gallery I picked up the latest edition and when I got home I caught up with a two-part documentary/fly-on-the-wall BBC TV programme about the Vogue ‘Absolutely Fashion : Inside British Vogue’ to immerse myself fully into this iconic magazine.



2 comments on “Autumn Visit To The Galleries of Manchester

  1. queenbreaca says:

    Seems there’s fashion everywhere. In Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria – International there’s a current exhibition of “Italian Jewels – Bulgari Style” and tomorrow sees the vernissage of “Victor & Rolf Fashion Artists”. But of course it’s spring over here, that explains a lot., in my opinion.

    • Are you home yet?? It’s been fashion, fashion, fashion for me too the last few weeks. And it’s autumn here, of course, but then the September Issue is always Vogue’s bumper one.

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