Tag Archives: Mary Holden Illingworth

Welcome to Fashionable Yorkshire

From 1600s splendour to 1970s style, a new exhibition at Lotherton Hall is displaying wonderful dresses worn by Yorkshire women.  Visitors can discover what clothes meant to these women and what we can learn about society from their fashion choices.

Dress belonging to Mary Holden Illingworth. Designed by Worth

Dress by Worth of Paris, worn by Mary Holden Illingworth in 1881

One of these women is Mary Holden Illingworth, daughter of Bradford wool magnate Sir Isaac Holden.  Mary obviously loved fashion and several of her luxurious and stylish outfits have survived.  The image above shows a dress she bought in 1881 for her daughter’s wedding.  It was created by the famous Parisian designer, Worth, and features an opulent fabric, fringing and a train.

Special Collections has loaned Mary’s book of travels and letters she wrote to her sister Maggie which include lots of detail about her interest in fashion.  Kay Eggleston blogged about padding mannequins so they were the right shape to fit the clothes on show.   Kay discusses how Mary’s figure changed during her life: from a slender young girl to the fuller-figured mother of five children who wore the Worth dress.  But, as Kay observes, always stylish!

Fashionable Yorkshire is on show 17 March-31 December 2017.  Find out more on the exhibition webpage.  This BBC news story and this from the Yorkshire Post include fantastic images of the costumes and their owners.

Mary’s Marvellous Dress

Delighted to learn (thanks to one of our readers!) that Leeds City Museum recently bought a stunning collection of clothes which belonged to Mary Holden Illingworth, the daughter of Isaac Holden.   There are many letters from Mary amongst our Holden Papers – I haven’t yet traced anything about her interest in fashion, but hoping to come across some reference to these gorgeous things.   The star exhibit is a beautiful dress made by Charles Frederick Worth of Paris for Mary in 1881: I gather that it will be on show at Lotherton Hall from 2 March 2012 as part of an exhibition on Victorian style and design, The Victorian Look Book.