Constance’s daring designs go on show

A HEADLINE penned in the height of fashion designer Constance Howarth’s success describes her as “daring as well as industrious”.

And Bolton Museum’s exhibition paying tribute to the former Bolton School pupil’s work and her fashion legacy demonstrates just that.

The exhibition, called Constance Howarth — The Life and Work of a Bolton Fashion Designer, was launched on Saturday and will showcase the work and correspondence of the fabric designer, milliner, dressmaker, businesswoman and sometime model until April 7.

On entering the exhibition people are faced with a an elegant 1950s narrow waist dress in floral lace over silk.

Despite many Boltonians being unfamiliar with Miss Howarth’s work, it is clear to see how her designs still look current, although many are more than 50 years old.

Miss Howarth’s vivid fabrics and hand-drawn designs on dresses caught the eye of fashionistas of London, New York and Lancashire. She was inspired by art gallery visits in Europe and developed her own style, using her fabric designs to make dresses and modelling her own wares to show them off to potential buyers.

Miss Howarth made clothes for the American market from cloth she designed, which was printed in Lancashire.

Despite her success she shunned the high life and opted for the quieter life of Lostock.

The exhibition includes a selection of her sketches, correspondence, framed photos of her modelling her own designs, and patterns and outfits designed and worn by Miss Howarth from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Miss Howarth was aware of the exhibition but died in March last year before it was completed.

Speaking before the launch, Cllr Christopher Peacock, Bolton Council’s cabinet member for culture, said: “Constance’s nephew also gave us access to a fabulous collection of photographs and designs she had collected and created over the years, so we thought it would be a fitting tribute to her and her wonderful achievements to organise a dedicated exhibition at the museum.”

The exhibition is open daily.

A hands-on session with some of the artefacts will be held at the museum on February 2, and a lunch-time talk on February 22, both of which are free.

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