FASHION icon Dame Zandra Rhodes officially opened the new fashion gallery at Salisbury Museum today (August 7)

Dame Zandra has dressed well-known figures including Barbra Streisand, Freddie Mercury, and Princess Diana to name just a few.

She said it was a "wonderful" to come to the city and the museum for the opening of the new gallery and also to see the existing collection of items on display.

Salisbury Journal:

"People have been shut up for so long that it is great that a museum has got all sorts of things of interest."

The collection includes a wide selection of fashion items ranging from a girl’s pretty red coat made from her father’s military tunic worn during the Boer War, to gentlemen’s silk waistcoats worn at court, and a skirt and bodice from Christian Dior’s 1950 Ligne Long collection.

Salisbury Journal:

The provenance of many of the items have been carefully researched and give a fascinating insight into the lives of their owners.

"The stories are there with it which is so fabulous," added Dame Zandra.

Salisbury Journal:

A silk high-heeled shoe is just one of the items on display in the new gallery and was originally found beneath the floorboards of a cottage in Upper Woodford.

Dating from the 1730s the fashionable and expensive shoe had been carefully darned and repaired before it was deliberately placed under the floor.

Representing a folk tradition that spans at least 600 years, shoes were hidden in homes in the hope that their ability to mould to the wearer’s foot would permeate them with their spirit and ward off evil.

The project to redisplay the fashion collection, called Look Again: Discovering Centuries of Fashion started in March 2018.

Salisbury Journal:

Young people attended an afterschool club at the museum, and groups including those from St Joseph’s Catholic School and the Arts University Bournemouth worked alongside the museum team and heritage volunteers from the Arts Society.

The gallery is the result of three years’ work by local young people working alongside the museum team, volunteers and experts, all sharing their skills and enthusiasm to produce this new show which explores our changing relationship with clothes.

Project manager Katy England said: "It is so exciting to have it finally open. We have been working on it since March 2018 and the project got extended because of the pandemic but we've finally got to the end of it. It is fantastic to see visitors enjoying it."

She said it was "amazing" to have Dame Zandra at the museum for the opening.

Salisbury Journal:  There are garments that have never been on display before. There are around 3,500 pieces ranging from wedding dresses, evening wear, a farmer's smock.

Curator Emily Smith added: "There is a real range of pieces all the way from 1700 up until the 1950s. It has been great to work with such a great collection of garments."

The Look Again project has been made possible by a grant of £115,360 from the Museums Association Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund.

The Arts Society Sarum also supported the new gallery with funding for the young people’s wider interior design ideas which included a new colour scheme and updated flooring.

Dame Zandra will also be donating items to the museum to add to the collection.