Leeds, Leeds Star
Caption reads: Mary Holden Illingworth dress. Purchased with the aid of the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, Leeds Art Fund, The Friends of Leeds Museums ©Leeds Museums and Galleries
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Object of the week- Mary Holden Illingworth dress

A glamorous glimpse into one Yorkshire woman’s passion for fashion, this elaborate dress is currently on display at Lotherton Hall.

Part of a stunning new exhibition of fabulous outfits worn by local women over the past 500 years, the dress once belonged to Mary Holden Illingworth, who lived in both Bradford and Paris between 1838 and 1908.

Mary’s family prospered during the Industrial Revolution of 1800s and throughout her life she was a lover of expensive clothes.

A regular customer of exclusive Leeds dressmaker Miss Lumbs and luxury draper Radfords, she amassed an impressive wardrobe of lavish and beautiful designer dresses.

This particular number was made from expensive silk and velvet by designer Charles Frederick Worth.

Worth was English but worked in Paris and is often described as the first fashion designer. Mary wore the beautiful dress to her daughter Marion’s wedding in 1881.

The dress is on display in Lotherton’s impressive fashion galleries as part of the Fashionable Yorkshire exhibition, where it can be seen alongside more items from Mary’s collection and other examples owned by prominent Yorkshire women

They include include Margaret Layton, the daughter of a wealthy London merchant who married a Yorkshire landowner in the 1600s and two dresses dating from the mid-1700s, believed to have belonged to a member of the Priestman family who were Quakers from Thornton le Dale, near Pickering, North Yorkshire.

Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for Leeds Museums and Galleries said:

“Bringing this impressive collection together in the stunning setting of Lotherton’s fashion galleries paints a very clear picture of just how much life has changed for women in Yorkshire over the centuries.

Fashionable Yorkshire is in the Lotherton fashion galleries until Dec 31.

For more details please visit: www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries

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