Walker Art Gallery and Museum of Liverpool Presents Lily Savage’s Costumes

The Walker Art Gallery and Museum of Liverpool Presents Lily Savage’s Costumes an exhibition on view through 19 February 2012.

Image by Alistair Muir

Eleven sensational costumes worn by actor Paul O’Grady’s alter ego Lily Savage are being displayed for the first time.

Savage Style: Costumes from Lily’s Wardrobe 4 November 2011 to 19 February 2012 features seven outfits at the Walker Art Gallery and four at the Museum of Liverpool.

Lily Savage, a single mother-of-two notorious for her acid tongue and shop-lifting, was created by Birkenhead-born O’Grady in the late 1970s. The costumes were worn during many stage and TV appearances.

Lily’s trademark wardrobe of mini-skirts and ball gowns, dominated by animal prints and sequins, delighted audiences bowled over by this outrageous character.

Paul O’Grady began his comedy career after moving to London to become a social worker. He created Lily on the pub and club circuit in his spare time. His Blonde Bombsite character had attracted a devoted following of fans by the early 1980s.

By 1994 Lily had her own show at the London Palladium. The next year her TV career took off following her breakthrough as celebrity interviewer on The Big Breakfast.

In 1997 she landed her first series with The Lily Savage Show. She went on to front numerous TV shows including Blankety Blank and Lily Live!

Lily also appeared in musicals and pantomime – her best-known role being the Wicked Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. She officially retired to a French convent in 2004 before Paul brought her back to play Widow Twankey in Aladdin at Christmas 2010.

Paul is a comedian, TV and radio presenter, actor and writer. Since the retirement of the Lily Savage character, he has appeared on numerous television programmes.

He is probably best known for his own award-winning chat shows – The Paul O’Grady Show (2004 -9) and Paul O’Grady Live (since 2010). He has hosted his Radio 2 show, Paul O’Grady, since 2009.

The first volume of Paul’s autobiography At My Mother’s Knee and Other Low Joints (2008) went to number one in The Times Best Sellers’ Lists. The second volume, The Devil Rides Out (2010), was also a best-seller.

The 11 costumes, all displayed on life-sized 6 ft 1 inch tall mannequins, are:
• Ivory sequined and beaded column dress

• Pale blue and silver ball gown, worn on Blankety Blank.

• Pink satin and black net ball gown, modelled on a Lanvin original

• Red beaded and sequined column dress and matching cape, worn for role of the Wicked Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

• Blue sequined column dress and matching cape (as Wicked Queen)

• Black sequined and feathered column dress and matching headdress (as Wicked Queen).

• Leopard-print and sequined devoré velvet evening dress

• Sequined snow leopard print skirt suit (1994).

• Gold sequined bingo-themed column dress (1999).

• Sequined zebra-print mini dress and black quilted satin and diamante biker jacket with ‘Evil’ design on back.

• Blue synthetic taffeta dress with simulated shark bites of red glitter, worn on Blankety Blank (2002).

Savage Style: Costumes from Lily’s Wardrobe is part of Liverpool’s Homotopia festival.

Homotopia is a Liverpool-based arts and social justice organisation making art, interventions and participation that inspires and unites communities. Every November it presents an annual festival of local, national and international LGB&T (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) arts and culture.


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