CATWALKING: £10,000 metal dress tribute to steel industry wows fashion lovers in Yorkshire
and live on Freeview channel 276
But it has never been worn.
And the owners believe it never will be – unless an A-list celebrity is looking for a red carpet showstopper...in a size 12.
The stunning aluminium outfit, which consists of a shoulder yoke and four linked hoops, is on public show for the first time at Catwalking: Fashion through the lens of Chris Moore, a display of designer clothing and iconic photos, at Cannon Hall Museum, near Barnsley, until November 5, 2023 - click here.
It is a replica of a long-lost dress, originally made of steel, which was created in Sheffield for Barnsley's own Sixties supermodel Victoria Nixon to wear in a 1969 national newspaper campaign, promoting new innovative uses for British Steel.
The advert resurfaced in her 2019 autobiography, Headshot - Beyond The Glitz, and the poster-girl launched a search for the dress. It failed to turn up so her husband, Michael Messenger, a one time Formula One engineer designer, has now made the amazing replica, which is valued at upwards of £10,000.
In an exclusive chat – watch video above or click here – Victoria told why she was so determined to have the metal dress reproduced - even though she insists she won’t be wearing it.
She says the original shoot was a career highlight, not least of all because she was helping to promote the steel industry, which helped to shape her native homeland and forged her own story.
Now aged 75, the elegant and stunning ex-model hopes the replica dress will do the same thing again. More than five decades on she wants it to be a reminder that the steel industry is still worth fighting for.
But she says her modelling days are behind her. She hasn’t tried on the replica, which might never be worn.
"I was a size 12 then. I reckon I could still wear it, but I'm more a 'silver surfer' now than a girl in a steel dress. I think it's better that you remember the original image," she laughed.
She said: "We wanted to do something to focus everybody back on the steel industry, how important it is and to the region where I grew up. Women kept the industry going during the war. This is just my very small way of contributing.
"When I did the photo shoot in 1969 it was the most amazing thing. What was so special and rewarding for me was that it was supporting the steelworkers, promoting how steel could be used in different ways, rather than the obvious.
"It was very odd to be wearing a steel dress, I mean putting it on and off was ridiculous, but wonderful fun. We had a great time on the shoot."
She added: "I'm very moved that this is at Cannon Hall Museum because as a small girl I remember coming here with my family. My parents would be so proud of me if they were still alive. It's quite extraordinary. It's the biggest honour for a long, long time."
It is hoped the dress and Victoria's inspirational book may go on permanent display in the town's Experience Barnsley Museum, inside the Town Hall.
But made of 2mm thick aluminium, as opposed to steel, the replica dress is wearable, explained husband Michael.
The 1969 advert and Victoria's memories of the shoot were the only clues as to how it was made. Michael said his design instructions were followed by talented Paul Whitehead, who constructed the replica with help from his mother, a dressmaker.
Michael said: "It's been very rewarding. But it was no challenge at all, because if you look at the photograph you can see how it's made - a yoke at the top and a number of pieces hanging from it with links. It was obvious the back must split down the middle.
"The fact is, somebody designed the original quite remarkably. It's wearable, the clips are exactly the same. If you look at them in detail and close up and compare them you will see that they are the same."
Signed copies of Victoria's autobiography are available at Cannon Hall Museum gift shop.
In it she reveals her amazing highs and terrible personal tragedies. Manfred Mann rock star Paul Jones first spotted her model potential when he saw her in the crowd at Peter Springfellow's Mojo Club in Sheffield.
A couple of years later she was officially discovered by the late iconic fashion photographer Helmut Newton, then went on to be photographed for Vogue and other top fashion magazines in Paris, Milan and New York.
Hailed as "the new face of '68", she rubbed shoulders with all stars of the day, had dinner with legendary surrealist painter Salvador Dali, was the first Top Of The Pops promo model and even had the Beach Boys sing at her 21st birthday party.
She went on to be successful in seven different careers – as a model, advertising copywriter, magazine editor, television producer, working with the likes of Sylvester Stallone and Richard Harris, became a deli owner and has written two other best sellers, giving model tips.
Her later role, she says also her most rewarding, was as company director of AirCell Structures, with third husband Michael, designing and manufacturing flat pack shelter and other humanitarian products, used by aid agencies in disaster areas around the globe.
Victoria spoke about her life in a full and frank interview with Graham Walker in 2016 - click here.
Barnsley Museums 2023 Blog: Victoria Nixon – Steel Strong - click here.
VIRTUAL TOUR: Take a digital look around Catwalking: Fashion through the lens of Chris Moore – click here.