– A new display of fashionable fiction at the Fashion and Textile Museum explores what glamorous women have been reading since 1953.
– Drawing on the archives of Penguin Books, paperback novels that have been chosen to feature include popular editions of Bonjour Tristesse, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Couples, Lace and The Secret History.
– Curated by writer and journalist Sarah Vine, the display complements an exhibition of dresses by leading British couturier Bellville Sassoon, and hints at the changing taste of women across 50 years.
– Display dates 22 October – 11 January 2014
What have glamorous and fashionable women been reading since the 1950s?
A new display, Fiction in Fashion, at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London showcases the paperback novels that proved most popular with women readers in post-war Britain.
Curated by Sarah Vine, the selection of titles is drawn from the archives of Penguin Books and is displayed alongside glamorous designs by British couture house Bellville Sassoon. Together, the dresses and novels reflect the changing taste of some of Britain’s most fashionable women across six decades.
With reference to the bookshelves of some of Britain’s most glamorous women, as well as to cultural barometers such as BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, the Booker Prize and television adaptations the display presents an alternative social history, highlighting novels that have faded from view as well as those that have remained in fashion.
From controversial bestsellers to literary classics, as well as new editions designed to coincide with films, the authors whose novels are highlighted range from Olivia Manning, L.P. Hartley and Truman Capote to Shirley Conran, Marian Keyes and Zadie Smith.
Head of the Fashion and Textile Museum, Celia Joicey says
‘The Glamour of Bellville Sassoon exhibition showcases British fashion design across 60 years, from 1950s debutantes to Diana, Princess of Wales. It is fascinating to see the novels that were popular in each era, and to consider the changing attitudes and aspirations of the women who wore these clothes.’
Joanna Prior, Managing Director of Penguin General, said
‘The design of Penguin paperbacks has always both captured and contributed to the visual culture of the day, connecting writers both old and new with the contemporary reader. This selection of novels, alongside the glamorous Bellville Sassoon dresses on show, provides a glimpse of what the fashionable, style-conscious woman was reading during these decades.’
The shop at the FTM will offer a range of vintage paperbacks during the display.
Fiction in Fashion is organised by the Fashion and Textile Museum and runs from 22 October – 11 January 2014.
Museum opening times: Tuesday–Saturday, 11am–6pm; Last admission 5.15pm. Ticket prices: £8 adults, £5.50 students and concessions, free entry for under 12s.
Booking information: online or call 0844 248 5076
The Fashion and Textile Museum is the only museum in the UK solely dedicated to showcasing developments in contemporary fashion, as well as providing inspiration, support and training for those working in the industry. Founded by iconic British designer Zandra Rhodes, the museum is part of Newham College London – one of Europe’s largest further education colleges.
The Fashion and Textile Museum is at 83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF. For further information about FTM and its activities visit www.ftmlondon.org
The display is curated by Sarah Vine and accompanies the exhibition ‘The Glamour of Bellville Sassoon’ – a retrospective of the British couture house from 1953–2010.
Sarah Vine writes for the Daily Mail, and is the co-author of The Great Big Glorious Book for Girls (Viking, 2007) and Backwards in High Heels (4th Estate, 2010).