• Instagram - Black Circle
  • Twitter - Black Circle


Please reload



whatgrandmawore is a celebration of all-things fashion and its most iconic moments, written by Ruby-May Helms. She has a BA (Hons) in Fashion and Dress History, and an MA in the History of Design and Material Culture. She is currently in the process of applying for a PHD in design history, exploring the relationship between clothing and death. 


This blog explores fashion and dress history through the analysis of surviving garments and other material culture from museum collections. It discusses fashion theory, topical and current issues, and reviews the latest exhibitions. 


TO CONTACT: rubymayhelms@hotmail.com. 


You can follow us on our social media channels by searching for us on Instagram and Twitter.

  • Twitter
  • Instagram

February 12, 2019

One could be forgiven for thinking that they were trespassing into The Dior Collection exhibition, held at Proud Central, London, from the 7th Feb – 7th April 2019. Quietly situated a close walk from Charing Cross station down a side street, The Dior Collection is held in an intimate, cosy, peaceful gallery space away from the bustle of the city, and other fashion devotees currently on fashion pilgrimage to the capital for the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition. In comparison to the V&A, Proud Central feels like a hidden gem undisturbed by overwhelming crowds.

Proud Central’s The Dior Collection, is an exhibition of fashion photography showcasing garments from the House of Dior, including garments designed by Christian Dior himself, to his protégée Yves Saint Laurent, to Marc Bohan. The photographs, taken by Norman Parkinson, Bert Stern, Horst P. Horst, Mark Shaw and Jerry Schatzberg, offer a view into the world of haute couture, from slick editor...

September 23, 2016

"I despise simplicity. It is the negation of all that is beautiful," - Norman Hartnell (Source V&A Museum, Norman Hartnell biography). 

A presentation at court to the royal family was a rite of passage for most upper-class girls during the 1920-30’s. A long lasting tradition of the British establishment, the trip to Buckingham Palace was rooted in history, beginning some 200 years prior to the interwar years, the period that lasted from 1918-1945. Presentations at court only ended in 1958, out of touch with a fast-paced, modernising world where social boundaries were slowly deteriorating.  

72.143. Norman Hartnell evening gown. Silk. c1948. The Museum of London, London, England. 

Young girls, would be put forward for invitation normally by their mothers, to courtesy in front of the ruling monarch, symbolising the beginning of the social Season. Presentations would normally occur when the debutante was 18 to 21, although other older ladies such as widows who had not been previously pr...

July 14, 2016

During the Belle Epoque era, a young, feisty entrepreneur emerged. Her name was Lucile; and her mission was to create couture for a new kind of a woman. A British designer, Lucile was arguably the first female to receive international recognition for her sartorial creations.

C.I.47.57.1. Lucile dance dress. c1914. Silk, fur and metallic thread. Lucile. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Museum, New York. 

Entirely self-taught, Lucile became a dressmaker working from her home in Mayfair, London during the late 19th century. She was already divorced, with a young daughter, yet her business was a success and she opened a dressmaking salon during 1898, located at 17 Hanover Square. This was completely unheard of for a young single mother, yet Lucile was determined to let her business grow. 

T.35-1960. Lucile evening dress. c1912. Silk, chiffon, satin, and embroidered metallic thread. The Victoria and Albert Online Collections, London. 

After two years, Lucile remarried a baronet, becoming La...

Please reload