It is dresses that count not the moves
Dance dresses worn by the people of Horsham feature in an exhibition at the town’s museum.
For those who feel the dresses outshine the celebrities on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing the exhibition, called Twinkle Toes, brings the glamour nearer home as it celebrates the 20th century dance dress. The exhibition is open and runs until the summer.
The museum said: “Rather than costume made for celebrities’ these costumes have been made for real people of Horsham who danced away the evening in the Drill Hall, or King’s Arms Assembly rooms, or The Black Horse Hotel. The real meeting place for a great night out in Horsham.
“Spanning a hundred years the costumes reflect the changes in decorum that ladies would observe. No split dresses up to the waistline, but dresses that exhibited the workmanship of the dressmaker and the designer. You didn’t have to have the perfect body to model these dresses, but you felt perfect doing so.
“It might have been the 1930s mustard yellow, rayon dress with the waist accentuated with a belt with a diamante clasps, topped off with a matching cape. Or the royal blue evening dress, made from net, embellished with sequins over a lining of crepe. The garment is slim fitting with no waist seam. A high neckline in the front drops to a low back with straps, which even being written sounds rather exotic and daring for Horsham.
“Some of the dresses on show were made by well-known makers, such as the calf length 1950s evening dress designed by Julian Rose. The black net bodice is boned and lined with white taffeta. The white net overskirt has four flounces of black lace finished with a pleated frill of stiffened lace at the hem.
“For the era when post war liberation, made dance activities more common. Whilst the Jean Allen gold metallic ‘dolly’ shift dress is typical of that worn in the 1960s. It would not look out of place in London, let alone Horsham.
“With more than 13 dresses on display the exhibition Twinkle Toes is a visual delight for all those who feel bereft of their visual extravaganza every Saturday night. And for those who don’t care about the dresses it is a real nostalgic trip in to their youth, or later, when going for a dance was the highlight of any week.”