Transformation: One Man’s Cross-Dressing Wardrobe @ The Walker Art Gallery
Tucked away at the back of the Craft and Design Gallery at the Walker Art Gallery, is a unique display of dresses owned by local man Peter Farrer, a lifelong collector of women’s garments and a cross dresser since the age of 14.
Farrer, who is now 90 years old, started accumulating the outfits when he joined a historic costume society and began by visiting department stores, where the staff wouldn’t ask any awkward questions about who he was buying them for.
As time progressed, he decided that he would start getting women’s garments specially made for himself so that he could wear them in the comfort of his own home and appointed a Brighton-based dressmaker called Sandi Hall, who was the owner of the Kentucky Woman Clothing Company, to design them for him.
Over the years he has been collecting, he has acquired a vast wardrobe of evening dresses made between the 1930’s and the 1980’s, and this exhibition, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, highlights his passion.
In the back left-hand corner of the gallery, there’s a noticeboard that explains about the man, his life, and the collection. While in two central glass display cabinets, there’s a mixture of different coloured vintage women’s garments made from fabrics such as taffeta and satin silk, and outfits that belong to the collector, some of which have flowery patterns on them.
There are sixteen of them in total and although this is not a huge display, it’s still a fascinating insight into a collection that has spanned a lifetime. Every article of clothing has been intricately designed and elegantly made right down to the finer details, and they all look absolutely stunning.
Although the exhibition has been set up as part of the Homotopia Festival, it is hoped that it will appeal to anyone who has a keen eye for fashion as well as cross dressers, and I think that it will as there are some fine examples on show for the public to view.
It was really pleasing to see that someone had taken the time to accumulate the garments, and I felt grateful that they had been put on display for all to see.