Himalayan exhibition scales spectacular heights of fashion
A new exhibition will reach the pinnacle of sartorial style by exploring flamboyant fashions from the home of the world’s highest mountains.
Lotherton’s new Himalayan Fashions exhibition, which opens later this week, will see incredible clothes and outfits collected from Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal go on display in the house’s stunning fashion galleries.
Among the colourful creations on the show will be a rare and beautiful Tibetan headdress from the 1920s, which has been specially conserved for the exhibition as well as traditional clothes worn by Buddhist monks and nuns, and a Gurkha uniform.
Also on display will be special extreme clothing and equipment on loan from high altitude mountaineer Alan Hinkes OBE, the first and only Briton to climb all the world’s highest mountains including Everest and K2.
The kit has helped keep him alive and prevent frostbite on Himalayan ascents and includes a one-piece ‘Hinkes suit’ filled with down and double insulated boots which help protect toes at temperatures of 40 degrees below freezing.
Yorkshireman Alan, who started his climbing career in the North York Moors and Dales, said: “All the kit I’ve loaned has been used in the Himalayas and is designed to help keep you alive in the Death Zone- the altitude above 8000m on peaks such as Everest and K2.
“Climbing in the Himalayas, I meet people from different countries and cultures, such as Nepal, Pakistan, Tibet and India.
“The locals in remote villages en route to a mountain base camp are always friendly and seem happy and contented in what to us would be very harsh conditions.
“Their clothes are often a fusion between traditional and practical, such as t-shirts and fleece jackets mixed with thick homemade woollen or goatskin coats.
“It’s great to be involved in this exhibition and I hope it can give people an insight into other amazing cultures and clothing.”
Also on display as part of Himalayan Fashions are beautiful silk brocades, geometric Dhaka cotton weaves, fine Kashmir wool shawls, rainbows of printed prayer flags and elaborate jewellery.
The exhibition has seen Leeds Museums and Galleries team up with National Museums Liverpool, Leeds Nepalese Community Association and Harewood House.
Antonia Lovelace, Leeds Museums and Galleries’ curator of world cultures, has been bringing the exhibition together in the last year. This will be her final exhibition before she retires after 20 years with the service.
She said: “It has been an amazing experience to take such a close look at the rich and varied textile traditions of the Himalayas to put this exhibition together and I hope it gives people a glimpse of what life is like for people living in places and conditions which are radically different from those they know.
“Fashion can be a really powerful tool to help tell the story of how cultures develop and how over time, people come to express their cultural identity through the clothes they wear.
“I hope people will enjoy experiencing some of the colourful and striking fashions of the Himalayas.
“It has been a real privilege over the past 20 years to work with the great World Cultures collections at Leeds, collections which definitely give people in Leeds a chance to bridge the gap between the many diverse and amazing cultures around the world.”
Himalayan Fashions runs at Lotherton from March 23 until October 26 and is free with usual estate admission.
A Himalayan themed family fun week is planned for the Summer Holidays, from July 23 to 29, where visitors can try out Himalayan themed crafts, with special costume handling sessions on Thursday. A day seminar is also planned for Monday, September 10.
Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries, said: “I’m sure the vibrant fashions and fantastic stories in this exhibition will be enthralling for visitors and it’s always a pleasure to see our museums exploring the spectacular variety of cultures across the globe.”
For full admission prices and more information, visit leeds.gov.uk/lothertonhall