‘The John Bright Historic Costume Collection Revealed’

This website is a catalogue of key items from the collection of original garments and textiles belonging to award-winning costume designer John Bright. He began to collect these historic pieces over fifty years ago in order to study their cut, construction and fabrics, and to develop the authentic style of costume design for which he and his costume house, Cosprop, are internationally renowned.

As John Bright’s design career developed and his company expanded, the collection grew to comprise many thousands of items of men’s, women’s and children’s wear from the early 18th Century to the late 20th Century, and from everyday wear to designer garments. John’s particular interests are reflected in collections of fancy dress, Ballets Russes’ costumes, and dresses worn by Queen Mary. Many of these garments have been acquired through costume designers and actors associated with Cosprop, and from individuals and families who have been able to provide them with a social and historical context.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has acknowledged the importance of the collection by generously funding the mounting and photographing of over 300 items, chosen by John Bright and Elizabeth Owen, the collection’s curator, making them available to study for the first time on this website.

Each garment is illustrated from a range of angles, and is examined in the accompanying text by the curator. It will be possible to see it in the context of related items, and of a timeline.

We hope that the website will be a valuable and easy to use research tool for costume enthusiasts and students for many years to come.