Heather Firbank was an It girl of the early 1900s, but is now known for the archive of her clothing that is held by the V&A in London.
Firbank packed up her wardrobe – bought from London’s top fashion boutiques, department stores, couture houses and private dressmakers during the early part of the 20th century – and put it into storage in 1926 after her brother died, where it remained until after her death in 1954.
Donated to the V&A in 1957, the collection of fine clothing has formed an important part of the museum’s collection ever since, providing valuable examples of fashionable Edwardian styles. The evening gowns, tailored suits, dresses and hats influenced Emmy award-winning costume designer Susannah Buxton’s work for the first series of Downton Abbey.
A book, London Society Fashion: 1905-1925, by Cassie Davies-Strodder, Jenny Lister and Lou Taylor, will be published by the V&A on May 3 priced at £30. It contains photographs from Firbank’s wardrobe, as well as pages from her own albums of fashion cuttings.
Our gallery shows some of the photos included in the book.