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Intro outline structure and our main charactersSecuring the funds for the collection was an arduous task that took over 2 years to complete 500 donations were secured from department stores Marshall Snelgrove in Manchester Debeham Freebodys in London and Daly Sons of Glasgow on the condition they could display a selection of garments in their stores These displays took place between June and August 1946 Chronological grouping of dresses dating from 1780 -1930 were displayed in the shop windows elsewhere historic clothing was displayed to highlight its similarities to the contemporary dress offered for sale groupings of sportswear wedding dresses tailor-mades coats and Ascot and evening gowns were shown in the appropriate departments Cunningtons sociological and psychological theories were passed over in favour of highlighting the collections significance as a record of Britains pioneering role in clothing and textile manufacture21 The Perfect lady Creating an Imperfect Collection and Identity for the Gallery of Costume On the 9th July 1947 The Gallery of English Costume was inaugurated with a lecture given by Dr Cecil Willet Cunnington to the delegates of the Museums Association Conference Cunnington a retired general practitioner turned amateur dress historian and his wife Phillis had collected over 3500 items of clothing mainly middle-class womens dress of the nineteenth century and a vast archive of research materials From his observations of this material Cunnington constructed provocative hypotheses relating the development of fashion to womens psychological state In 1945 the Cunningtons sold their collection to Manchester City Council and it became the nucleus from which the Gallery of Costume would grow At the time of the sale Manchester City Council acknowledged the collection as one of the most comprehensive and remarkable of its kind Undoubtedly the collection presented a unique opportunity to create a one of a kind gallery devoted to the serious study of dress But conversely the direction and identity of this nascent gallery was impacted by the scope of
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