Costumier recreates museum founder's historical ballgown

Portrait of Joséphine Bowes
Image caption The portrait of Joséphine Bowes is on show on the first floor of the museum

A historical ballgown worn by the founder of The Bowes Museum is being recreated by a costumier in Barnard Castle.

Luca Costigliolo is remaking a pink ballgown worn in an 1860s portrait of Joséphine Bowes, who built the 19th Century museum with her husband John.

Using historic sewing methods, Mr Costigliolo will sew the gown from 10 metre of silk specially woven in Como, Italy.

Mr Costigliolo said he was "fascinated" by the project and the chance to reproduce the dress.

He said: "The jewelled belt which Joséphine Bowes wore with the dress is still on show in the museum, so to have one of the original accessories available makes it even more interesting.

"While it is a challenge which will involve a lot of work I would not describe it as being particularly difficult."

Mrs Bowes, an amateur painter, shared a love of the arts with her husband.

The couple decided to create a museum back in Mr Bowes' ancestral home of Teesdale to introduce the world of art to the local people.

Evolution of sewing

Mrs Bowes laid the foundation stone of the museum in 1869 and as the building grew, so did the collection, with 15,000 objects purchased between 1862 and1874.

Image caption The dress will go on display in the museum once it is finished

The portrait of Mrs Bowes is on show on the first floor of the museum.

Mr Costigliolo said: "The most complicated part is to get the shape right, so the cut is the most difficult, but the gown is a pure, highly fashionable line of the period.

"It's a dress intended to show off the wearer's status in society and her jewellery."

Mr Costigliolo will be working in full view of the public during the 10 day event, explaining his methods and answering questions as the creation develops.

"I'm very comfortable with people watching what I'm doing and I like answering their questions. There are a lot of myths surrounding historical costume, which unfortunately have become facts down the years.

"My life has been dedicated to the evolution of sewing, so it is good to have an opportunity to debunk some of those myths."

When the dress is finished it will go on display in the museum in late July.

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