Suggested words
Visitor looking at dress in display case.

Fashion & Style

Visitors in fashion gallery.

Our Fashion & Style gallery draws on collections dating from the 1500s to the present day. It showcases the history of dress and the unique, rebellious spirit of Brighton & Hove.

Clothing is both a form of self-expression and a measure of social change. Our displays cover themes ranging from George IV, who was interested in fashion from a young age, to Internationalism, which references the Royal Pavilion and the wider influence on European fashion of ancient trade routes linking China and the West.

Visitors in fashion gallery.

From court clothing to contemporary

Visitors will encounter lots of interesting contrasts. In one display case, you’ll see a demure Victorian wedding dress that, according to its label, was altered several years after it was made so it could be worn again.  Alongside it hangs an outfit worn to celebrate a Civil Partnership in 2008. This was donated by a local resident, who described it as ‘paying homage to the Pavilion, Regency dandies and Brighton’s reputation for excess’.

Other highlights include the court clothing worn by Sake Dean Mahomed, Shampooing Surgeon to George IV, which incorporated Western elements into traditional Eastern dress, and a 1930s couture evening dress worn by the Countess of Rosse, whose family home was Nymans in West Sussex.

Expressions of identity

The Renegade collection showcases fashion as a tool of rebellion. Here, you’ll see clothing that represents a range of sub-cultures associated with Brighton, from Mods & Rockers, Teddy Boys, Skaters and Goths to Travellers and Hippies. We have also created a special display focusing on Queer Looks. Developed by a Young Project Team to celebrate the stories of LGBTQ+ individuals in the Greater Brighton area, it’s another example of the way clothing can express an individual identity and, at the same time, instil a sense of belonging.