A fabulous fashion exhibition of some of the most beautiful outfits from our permanent collection, including two incredibly significant recent donations on display for the first time: a sumptuous silk satin wedding dress dating from 1896, and a magnificent and historically important court dress with train from dating from 1911.

All of the pieces in this exhibition are from the 1870s to the 1910s. This relatively peaceful period in Western Europe is often known as La Belle Époque - “the beautiful era.”

During this time the fashionable female figure was subject to more fluctuations than had ever been seen before. The means used to achieve various silhouettes - from crinolines to corsets, bustles to migrating bust lines - will be explored here.

BELUM.T2019.13.1-2: 1911 Brussels lace and Irish crochet court dress with silk embroidered train by Madame Duboc Credit: National Museums NI
BELUM.T2019.20.1-2: 1896 Silk satin wedding dress with train, made in New York possibly by Francis O’Neill Credit: National Museums NI
BELUM.T1909: 1905 Silk day dress. Unknown maker for Peter Robinson, London Credit: National Museums NI
BELUM.T2260: c.1885 Silk dress with iridescent beading with day bodice, evening bodice and detachable train. Part of a Donegal woman’s wedding trousseau. Credit: National Museums NI