Fashion and Freedom

‘Radical social change’ is the main theme in a newly opened exhibition at the Staffordshire attraction, titled Fashion and Freedom.

The display, which is running until 30th November, has been co-commissioned by Manchester Art Gallery and 14-18 NOW as part of a programme of World War One centenary art commissions. A century after the end of the conflict, this exhibition examines the fashion legacy from the wartime era.

The changing roles of women

World War One was the ‘catalyst for radical social change’ in the UK, causing a revolution in women’s lives and transforming the workforce.

This spirit of change has been captured by Fashion and Freedom, which explores how the changing role of women in the workplace impacted fashion, as their new responsibilities working in munitions factories and in the transport industry provided new freedoms.

Featuring designs from Vivienne Westwood, Holly Fulton, Roksanda, J JS Lee, Emilia Wickstead and Sadie Williams, the display will teach how changing social circumstances influenced the development of a new look where tight corsets and heavy skirts were replaced by more natural and fluid silhouettes.

Group rates and admission is included in the tickets for Landscapes of Life, a permanent exhibition at the Arboretum.

Sarah Oakden, head of marketing, National Memorial Arboretum, said: “Fashion and Freedom offers the opportunity for visitors to explore social history and discover the ongoing influence that the First World War has had on clothing design.

“This exciting new exhibition has previously only been exhibited in the north of England and we are delighted to be able to bring it to new audiences in the midlands.”

Group visits

The free-to-enter site contains more than 350 memorials for military and civilian associations, amongst 30,000 maturing trees. There’s also a Remembrance Centre that features informative exhibitions to explore. Groups can benefit from talks and tours.

Don’t forget to apply for our Reader Club trip…

Have you applied yet for our Reader Club trip to the National Memorial Arboretum? This fam trip is taking place on Saturday 5th May and will include in introductory talk, a guided tour, two course lunch and free time.

The deadline for applying is Friday 16th March, and you can sign up here.

For further information visit

(Photo credit: Sadie Williams and Jez Tozer)