Museum celebrates local designer

GARMENTS created by skilled local designer Marie Bisson are on display at the newly-reopened Folk and Costume Museum.

The Saumarez Park attraction reopened for the summer season this week.

Born in 1927 to Rowland and Mildred Bisson, during World War Two Marie was evacuated to Rochdale to live with the Hindle family, where her talents flourished.

Accompanying the exhibition is a collection of 1950s garments from the National Trust of Guernsey archive which have never been displayed.

‘It’s an absolutely fantastic exhibition,’ said National Trust president Tony Spruce.

‘This is a special display and it is particularly good – we bring this stuff out once in a blue moon. Marie Bisson was evacuated and eventually became a famous designer. She created garments for royal pageants and all sorts and was a very famous local girl.’

While in the UK Ms Bisson attended the Manchester School of Art and London Press Art School as well as designing costumes for Sadler’s Wells Ballet.

‘Had she not been evacuated she would never have had access to what she was. She had this unknown talent which flourished. During evacuation it was pot luck who chose you and it totally changed that person’s life,’ he said.

Post-war style created a frivolous, glamorous and elegant ‘new look’, using great lengths of fabric after years making do with little.

Intricate beadwork, lace and sequin patterns feature on several dresses as a mark of the time.

Ms Bisson returned to Guernsey in 1950 where she met Clarence Dorey and they married in 1953 – the same year as Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation.

On display is Ms Bisson’s wedding dress, influenced by the Queen’s coronation dress designed by Norman Hartnell.

Guernsey held a Coronation Pageant with costumes designed by Ms Bisson under commission by the States of Guernsey.

Original sketches, illustrations and correspondence are also on show.

‘On display upstairs we have 1950s dresses which are all part of our collection. We have 8,000 costumes in store as part of our archive.

‘Each year we bring out different dresses and our costume curator creates a new display.’

Archived clothing is now based in the Victorian parlour, which was closed last year for restoration work, although the costume store is not accessible to the public given the tight controls needed to preserve items.

During the transfer of archived artefacts from storage to the parlour, many pieces which had not been seen for some time were rediscovered.

  • The Folk and Costume Museum is open between 10am and 5pm until 31 October, except Liberation Day, to attend the exhibition. Adult tickets cost £6, student and children over seven £3, with children under seven going free. Entry is free for National Trust (worldwide) members and La Societe Guernesiaise members.

The museum is access-friendly.

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