Sailor chic - fashion's love affair with the sea: New summer exhibition at the National Maritime Museum, 25 July - 2 December 2007

The NMM will open an exhibition about the influence of sailors' clothing on fashion

From brass buttons to bell-bottoms, garments traditionally worn at sea have been adopted and adapted throughout history to create new fashions, identities and statements.

In July 2007, the National Maritime Museum Greenwich opens a stylish new exhibition entitled Sailor Chic which brings together material from the trend’s early beginnings as a fashion essential for affluent Victorian children to present day catwalk couture. The exhibition displays garments on loan from eminent costume collections and the archives of significant fashion designers working today such as Vivienne Westwood, Galliano and Chanel, along with key objects from the National Maritime Museum’s own collections.

Over the last 150 years, the enduring influence of nautical and naval-inspired styles has spread from the UK and throughout Europe to America and into wardrobes of millions, permeating high street and haute couture fashions alike.

Sailor Chic explores three main areas. The first focuses on the beginnings of nautical inspired fashions in Britain and explores the use of naval styles to evoke a sense of national pride and solidarity with the Royal Navy. The nautical trend first began in 1846 when Queen Victoria had a sailor suit made for her son, the four year old Albert Edward to wear aboard the Royal Yacht. This outfit is on display in the exhibition together with a painting of the Prince of Wales proudly wearing the suit, painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter.

The second looks at how the style was later adopted by different groups and subcultures to form distinctive looks and identities. This trend in turn influenced the work of designers, filmmakers, costumiers and iconic pop musicians. Featured pieces include an outfit from Vivienne Westwood’s seminal 1981 ‘pirate’ collection complete with bi-corn hat and sash, as well as the naval inspired costume designed and worn by Adam Ant in the UK chart number one, ‘Goody Two Shoes’.

In the third section Sailor Chic charts the trend’s evolution over the last 40 years and its transition from catwalk to high street. It displays the work of contemporary designers alongside garments which found their way into high street stores, providing a more accessible, affordable nautical look.

General information: Exhibition opens: 25 July 2007Admission:  Adults £5.00 | Concessions £4.00 | Under-16s free.

National Maritime Museum and Royal Observatory Greenwich are open:10.00 – 17.00 daily. Last admission is at 16.30.

General admission to National Maritime Museum, Queen’s House and Royal Observatory Greenwich is free.

For updated information prior to visit please visit the web site: or phone 020 8858 4422.


Notes to editors

The National Maritime Museum - the largest and most important museum of its kind in the world - is housed in impressively modernized historic buildings forming part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. It incorporates the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, (home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian Line) and 17th-century Queen’s House (England's first classical building and a rare surviving example of the work of Inigo Jones). The Museum works to illustrate for everyone the importance of the sea, ships, time and the stars and their relationship with people. Visit for further information.

Issued May by the National Maritime Museum Press Office.

For further information or images please contact:Lisa Pender or Nigel RubensteinNational Maritime Museum Press OfficeTel: 020 8312 6790/6732/6545 | 07903 547 268Email: