The Surrey Museum's latest exhibit, Unsinkable: Remembering the Titanic, 1912-2012, marks the 100th anniversary of the launch of the doomed luxury liner RMS Titanic.
The Titanic was celebrated as the largest and most luxurious passenger vessel of its time.
Clothing from the collections of the Surrey Museum, and that of fashion historian Ivan Sayers, will be on display as part of the exhibit, evoking the opulence of the Edwardian era and early 20th century transatlantic steamship travel.
"We tried to show an assortment of things that would be typical of what people would have worn on the ship in 1912," said Sayers.
His extensive fashion collection includes well over 1,000 hats and about 2,000 pairs of shoes.
He has garments that date back to the 1730s. Samplings from that collection have been combined with the Surrey Museum's collection for the Titanic exhibit.
Sayers said putting together a fashion exhibit is no easy feat.
"You have to match clothing by time period, but also by quality, colour, time of day and social position to make the outfit believable," he said.
"You can't match a hat from Paris that cost $500 with a dress from Army & Navy that sold for $12. If you do that, it looks wrong.
"We've tried very hard to make the outfits plausible."
The Surrey Museum's Titanic exhibit includes two men's outfits, two boys sailor suits, a maid's uniform, a wealthy woman's evening dress, a young man's formal attire, as well as the attire of a young couple who would have travelled in third class.
"Big, big hats were popular, so one of the figures is wearing a big hat," Sayers said. His favourite outfit is the maid's uniform.
"It's the most unusual," he said. "People save wedding dresses, evening gowns, things like that, but a humble conventional garment is something that rarely survives. They're used until they're worn out and then they're thrown away."
Sayers said where possible, they used full mannequins so the outfits could be accessorized.
"That adds a touch of realism to it," he said. "It's not just a dress, the outfit is complete, which helps create understanding of the fashion of the day."
Sayers said he hopes seeing the clothing of the time will humanize the tragic event.
"The sinking was a terrible tragedy of course, and you have to remember a lot of people died. We look at it with a sort of curiosity more than sympathy nowadays. We think of it as glamorous, in a way, but the reality is it was just plain grim."
Sayers said for him, clothing is the most personal artifact that survives through time.
"In a situation like a massive drowning such as this, it really does bring home the human aspect of this," Sayers said. "It isn't just a statistic - it was living breathing people just like us. I think that's important to remember."
SEE GALLERY ONLINE
Sayers will be presenting Titanic Tea & Fashion this Saturday (April 14), which will include a presentation and talk profiling the clothing fashionistas wore aboard the ship.
But the clothing is just part of what is showcased in the exhibit. The exhibit also features rooms meticulously recreated to represent third and first class accommodations from the Titanic using objects from the Surrey Museum's collection.
The Titanic exhibit is on display from now to June 12 at the Surrey Museum, located at 17710 56A Ave.
There are programs being offered during the duration of the exhibit, such as Titanic Ladies and Titanic Gentleman, which guides preschoolers in the discovery of clothing of the Edwardian era through dress-up, tea and more.
For more information, call 604-592-6956.