Costume Society Ambassadors, Costume Society, News, Reviews  |  December 19, 2017

Transformation: One Man’s Cross-Dressing Wardrobe

Victoria Haddock

Peter Farrer was born in Surrey on 20th May 1926, but lived in Liverpool from 1968 until his death aged ninety earlier this year. I was fortunate enough to meet him on the ‘Fab Fashions in Merseyside’ Costume Society trip in September 2014 when our group visited his large Victorian home containing his collection of dress and the outstanding fashion library that he had created with his wife Anne Brogden.

Peter began cross-dressing occasionally from the age of fourteen.  His interest in women’s period costume from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries began with taffeta because he liked the rustling sound it made when it was worn. This led him to collect and accumulate a large number of garments. His collection included beautiful evening dresses dating from the 1930s to the 1980s and an impressive archive of fashion publications, including complete runs of Vogue magazine.

I visited the ‘Transformation: One Man’s Cross-Dressing Wardrobe’ exhibition when it was on display at the Walker Art Gallery in 2016, where Peter was able to view and approve the exhibition of his garments. Visitors were encouraged to write their views and comments on tags and the public reaction to the ‘Transformation’ exhibition was overwhelmingly positive. ‘Transformation: One Man’s Cross-Dressing Wardrobe’ is now on display until March 2018 at Sudley House, a Victorian Merchant’s House that features Pre-Raphaelite paintings and hosts numerous fashion exhibitions. The display features twenty-one garments from both Peter’s historic collection and his modern ‘bespoke’ wardrobe of taffeta dresses that he would wear around his home, created by the Brighton based dressmaker Sandi Steyning, owner of the Kentucky Woman Clothing Company.

The Costume Curator for National Museums Liverpool, Pauline Rushton, discusses cross-dressing in a video to accompany the display –

The exhibition is free to visit at Sudley House and is on display until March 2018.

  • Peter Farrer © National Museums Liverpool
  • Blouse and skirt © National Museums Liverpool
  • Blue silk satin dress © National Museums Liverpool
  • Floral dress © National Museums Liverpool
  • Paquin silk and satin dress © National Museums Liverpool