Explore over 400 years of fashion history at the National Museum of Scotland.
The gamine look of the Roaring Twenties redefined modern womanhood. With its simpler silhouette and shorter hemlines, it freed the body for the energetic dance crazes sweeping Europe. Want to know how this dress was prepared for display? Find out here.
Woman's suit, 1980-1981
Serbian artist, colourist and textile designer Bernat Klein (1922 – 2015) founded his business in the Scottish Borders in 1952, where he produced innovative fashion fabrics for the couture houses of Europe. The colour and texture of of the Scottish landscape that inspired Klein are evident in this suit. You can find out more about our Bernat Klein collection here.
This doublet would have been worn with an undershirt exposed at the waist, back and sleeves. Densely embroidered, it probably belonged to an upper-class fashionable young man. You can read more about the doublet on Mode, our online guide to the Fashion and Style gallery.
Dresses by Mario Fortuny are highly prized for the designer's distinctively fine pleating technique, which is still a closely guarded secret. Rarely were any two pieces exactly alike. You can read more about this dress on Mode, our online guide to the Fashion and Style gallery.
In the 1920s, Jeanne Lanvin became known for her robe de style with its full pannier hips and her trademark use of intricate trimming and embroideries. In 1922, the illustrator Paul Iribe sketched Lanvin and her daughter both wearing a dress in this style. The sketch has appeared on labels and perfume bottles since 1927. You can read more about the robe de style on Mode, our online guide to the Fashion and Style gallery.
Paul Poiret's revolutionary designs allegedly freed women from corsetry and the rigid hourglass silhouette of the Belle Epoque. He often looked to eastern cultures for inspiration, choosing simple lines and patterns in a striking palette of primary colours. You can read more about this dress on Mode, our online guide to the Fashion and Style gallery.
The first London-based couturière to achieve international success, Lucile’s pioneering spirit engineered designs that exemplified luxury and liberation for women at the turn of the 20th century. You can find out more about this lovely dress here.
This black satin Jean Muir dress once belonged to Joanna Lumley. It was not only her first Muir purchase after becoming a house model for her in 1964, but also her first Little Black Dress. Fashion journalist Iain R Webb described Jean Muir as 'the ultimate practitioner of perfect Little Black Dress chic'.
Marks and Spencer's Best of British range formed part of a three-year partnership with the British Fashion Council. Knitwear was manufactured in Hawick, outerwear in Manchester and footwear in Northampton, while may of the fabrics used are woven in Great Britain, including Harris Tweed and cashmere from Todd & Duncan in Kinross.
Until the late 18th century, children of the upper classes were dressed in imitation of their parents. Boys and girls were dressed alike as young children, both wearing petticoats until boys were breeched, usually between the ages of three and seven. Childish distinctions in dress appeared slowly, influenced by Enlightenment ideas around nature, health and liberty.
The banyan, or Indian nightgown, was influenced by Persian and Asian clothing. It was worn at home for ease, either as a dressing gown or an informal coat. You can read more about the banyan on Mode, our online guide to the Fashion and Style gallery.
In the mid-1870s, dresses began to be tailored with vertical darts and seams, removing the need for waist seams. The form became known as the princess line in dresses, or the cuirass in jackets and bodices extending over the hip. It was particularly associated with Alexandra, Princess of Wales, who was the subject of fashionable media coverage throughout her royal life. You can read more about this dress on Mode, our online guide to the Fashion and Style gallery.
During the 1930s and 40s, Elsa Schiaparelli was collaborating with the surrealist artists Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dali and Leonor Fini. Her work from this period cemented her reputation for theatrical designs marrying art and dressmaking, with whimsical detailing, bold prints and eye-catching embroidery. This jacket is a simplified version of the one worn by Schiaparelli for her portrait by Horst P horst for Vogue, taken c1934. You can read more about this dress on Mode, our online guide to the Fashion and Style gallery.
Luxurious evening coats reflected the 1920s vogue for exoticism, combining the cut of western fashion with colourful metallic embroideries. The fur markets of Europe and North American reached their peak in the 1920s and 30s and designers used fur in abundance on as trim for coats, with the most expensive being sable, ermine, mink and fox.
Jacques Fath is one of the designers credited with contributing to the rebirth of couture following the Second World War. Fans of his work include Ava Garnder, Greta Garbo and Rita Hayworth, for whom he made both wedding dress and trousseau for her marriage to Prince Aly Khan. You can read more about this dress on Mode, our online guide to the Fashion and Style gallery.
The appearance of the cage crinoline in 1856 offered a more practical alternative to layers of heavy petticoats stiffened with horsehair. The crinoline craze reached its bell-shaped peak during the late 1850s and early 1860s, before the fullness began to move towards the back and the crinoline reduced in size.