Fashion Through The Ages catwalk show

On Friday 21 and Saturday 22 June 2024, the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust will host its second annual fashion show, taking fashionistas and historical costume fans on a 500-year journey through fashion history.

This unique catwalk show is being produced by the Costume Project, a branch of the Trust which produces bespoke costume for the Trust’s museums and for museums and heritage organisations around the country.

A total of 49 costumes will make their way down the catwalk. The replica outfits will represent more than 500 years of fashion history, beginning in the medieval period and coming right up to the 20th century. Highlights will include the tunic and gown of a medieval lord and lady of the manor; a 16th-century outfit of Queen Elizabeth I; beautiful Victorian wedding dresses; a glamorous 1950s ballgown; and outfits reflecting the Caribbean-influenced style of the Windrush generation, to mark Windrush Day on 22 June. A host will explain the history behind each look as it makes its way down the catwalk, as well as exploring the sometimes complex engineering behind garments such as corsets, crinolines and bustles.  

The final piece to appear on the catwalk will bring us into the 21st century and reflect the current trend to reuse and recycle. The team at the Costume Project have used hundreds of scraps of fabric left over from garments they have previously made to make a ravishing gown with a long train.

For a second year, the Trust, a heritage conservation and education charity, has collaborated with Telford College to create a piece for the show. Holly Millward, a second-year art and design student, won a competition to design an outfit inspired by period costume from 1750 to 1900 and in some way by Telford and the surrounding area. Her design for an 1850s crinoline dress features brightly-coloured lace inspired by the lights of Telford’s Southwater, and represents the meeting of past and present. Holly spent a week working with the Costume Project to turn her design into a costume that will be debuted at the show.

2022 Great British Sewing Bee contestant Richy Wedge, from nearby Shrewsbury, will return for this year’s show, modelling an Elizabethan costume that he has made in collaboration with the Costume Project.

There will also be a small collection of original dress on display for people to see before the show. After the show, some of the models will mingle with the audience to give them the opportunity to see costumes close up.

Rhi Woodward, Senior Costume Interpreter at the Costume Project, has curated the show. She said: “We’re delighted that in this year’s fashion show there will be more costumes, covering a greater period of fashion history, than ever before. From lavish and opulent gowns to more functional and durable clothing worn by workers, the show will reflect how varied clothing has been in Britain through the centuries and the influences that have shaped fashion. The audience will have the opportunity to appreciate the beauty but also the technical aspects of designs.

“We are delighted to add some Caribbean-influenced fashion to the catwalk with our Windrush generation looks, and to bring the show bang up-to-date with our 21st century gown inspired by reuse and recycling.”

The Ironbridge Gorge Museums’ Costume Project has been producing bespoke costumes for museums and heritage organisations since 2004. The team create traditional costumes using historic sources, original patterns and archive research. They produce replicas for display as well as costumes designed to be tried on my visitors or worn by demonstrating staff and performers, such as at Blists Hill Victorian Town open-air museum.

A pay bar will be available. Doors open at 6pm and the fashion show will take place from 7-8.30pm (including a 20 minute interval). Tickets cost £20 for adults and £15 for children and students. There is a 10% reduction for PASS PLUS holders.

For more information about this and other autumn events at Ironbridge Valley of Invention, visit

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