Oh Manchester, you dark horse.
You’ve been keeping secrets from me for all these years.
Or have you?
I guess if I’m honest, I did notice those flirty Jane-Austen-novel style sideways glances you gave me through the medium of Platt Hall. But I’ve told you before – I’m from Liverpool; your North-West rival and fierce competitor in the bid for my heart.
I belong to Liverpool – you know that. But I can’t deny that it’s you who keeps me warm; wining me and dining me when Liverpool feels far away. So it’s about time I stopped playing so hard to get. It’s only been 14 years after all.
And in those 14 years, I’ve passed by Platt Hall countless times. I’ve walked by on my way to uni wearing my dad’s old jumper in my scruffy student days. I’ve whizzed by in my glad rags on the night bus home after an evening on the town, and I’ve driven by time and time again in overalls on what I like to call “day job missions”.
Platt Hall has seen me in all my varying outfits, and yet, although I knew the hall was home to the Manchester Gallery of Costume, I really had no idea about the treasure trove of fashion hidden inside.
I decided a local travel #take12trips adventure would be the ideal excuse to take a look.
On Saturday I realised that this treasure trove could take me on a journey from what Mr Darcy would have worn (swoon), to what Mr Dior did indeed design (faint). Heart stopping stuff, If I’m honest.
It was culture, history and a dollop of pure joy.
Reader, I am in love with this place.
Nestled in Platt Fields Park, this listed Georgian building was erected as a home in 1746 and the setting seems a world away from the thriving parts of Manchester that it’s tucked between.
You’d never guess that two of Manchester’s most buzzy and bustling areas – Rusholme with its famous curry mile, and Fallowfield, the home of the city’s student population (and where I used to live, back in the day) are right on the doorstep.
These days, Platt Hall tells the story of fashion, both from a functional and fabulous point of view.
Permanent displays take you on a journey of clothing through time and temporary exhibitions showcase famous designers, which is precisely why I came face to face with exquisite vintage Dior creations that made my heart skip a beat.
I was transfixed by a completely stunning floral dress, but it was a little black number from 1949 that I’d have chosen to take home. Timeless is the only way you could describe it. I’d walk taller and actually be a better person in a dress like that, I’m absolutely certain.
The gallery is also home to a shop selling the sort of cute, colourful and sublimely stylish gifts that any fashionista would be thrilled to receive.
Sadly, I caught the Dior exhibition just before it closed, but next up is a showcase of creations from British designer Ossie Clark. I can’t wait.
So you see, Manchester – you were right.
I really didn’t know what I was missing every time I overlooked Platt Hall.
And now I know it won’t be long before you and I are in way too deep. What else have you been hiding?
The Manchester Gallery of Costume is about 3 miles outside of Manchester city centre. Entry is free.
You can get here easily by bus (any bus that has “40” in the number goes by – as in, 41, 42, 43 or 142, 143). The journey could take anything from 15-30 mins (depending on traffic) and although the cost of the trip varies between service operators, it shouldn’t set you back more than a few quid each way. Buses with these numbers run super frequently from Piccadilly Gardens and if you decide to make the trip you could always combine your visit to the gallery with a meal on the curry mile.
Would you like to visit this museum?