Celebrating 80 years of a Nottingham-born beauty brand

11 Jan 2016 10:39:47.107

PA 07/16

A new exhibition at the Weston Gallery at Nottingham Lakeside Arts celebrates the anniversary of the iconic Nottingham-born beauty brand No 7.

Inspiring Beauty. No7 ~ 80 years of making up the modern woman’ is at the Weston Gallery, D H Lawrence Pavilion from Friday 15 January to Sunday 17 April 2016.

The exhibition will showcase previously unseen material charts key moments in the history of Boots No7 from its launch in 1935 to its development as an international beauty range.

This exhibition has been jointly curated by Sophie Clapp and Judith Wright from the Boots Archives, Dr Richard Hornsey (Lecturer in Modern British History at The University of Nottingham), and Manuscripts and Special Collections at The University of Nottingham.   

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Changing beauty needs

Originally created with the modern woman in mind, No7 has developed over the years to address their changing beauty needs.  No7 was launched in an era soon to be transformed by the Second World War. This exhibition explores the social changes affecting women during the last eight decades, and the extent to which No7 responded to them.

It charts the measures taken to counteract war-time shortages and the explosion of colour and choice in the 1960s to enable glamour-on-the-go. The exhibition shows how in more recent years the demands of women for purity and efficacy have helped to shape product development.

For the first time, original archive documents and museum objects have been brought together from Boots Archives, The University of Nottingham’s Manuscripts and Special Collections and The University of Nottingham’s Museum to show the wider social and cultural role of cosmetics from Roman times to the present day.

The partnership with Boots for Inspiring Beauty offers a rare opportunity to see treasures from the Boots Archives not normally on display to the public, such as original packaging and advertising.

Shift in attitudes to female beauty

Also on display is some Victorian advice for young ladies regarding their appearance, along with 20th century beauty advisors’ notes that demonstrate the shift in attitudes to female beauty over the generations. Posters, products, photographs and Boots staff magazines will also be used to tell a decade-by-decade story of the cosmetic evolution of the modern woman.

Kathryn Steenson, Archivist at Manuscripts and Special Collections at The University of Nottingham, said: “The history of Boots is deeply rooted in Nottingham, where the company was founded and where so many local people have worked and shopped. It seems fitting to tell the story of No7 on the campus that Jesse Boot helped create.

“No7 was launched just as the modern beauty industry came of age, and it’s fascinating to see how it has constantly adapted and grown from just a handful of products to an enormous internationally-available range. But this exhibition is not just about make-up, it’s also the social and cultural story of the past 80 years, and how the changes are reflected in the products we buy and the marketing we see.”

 What’s on?

Inspiring Beauty. No7 ~ 80 years of making up the modern woman is at the Weston Gallery, D H Lawrence Pavilion, Nottingham Lakeside Arts, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD from Friday 15 January to Sunday 17 April 2016.

The Weston Gallery is open Monday to Friday 11am – 4pm

Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays noon – 4pm (Closed Easter Sunday)

Admission Free

A series of talks will be held to accompany the exhibition. Admission is free but places are limited so please book in advance with the Box Office on 0115 846 7777


A series of talks and creative workshop will be held to accompany the exhibition. Places are limited so please book in advance with the box office on 0115 846 7777.

25 February 2016

Face Values: a Cultural History of Make-up

In this talk, Dr Richard Hornsey explores the changing meanings of the made-up face in 20th century Britain, tracing how women's use of cosmetics became a focus for wider debates around morality, freedom, health and self-expression.

9 March 2016

7 steps to perfection

Drawing on material, images and stories from Boots Archive, Archivist Judith Wright will explore the different elements that have contributed towards the success of No7 from the creation of innovative products to eye catching designs and advertising to the people behind their development and the women who loved them.

12 April 2016

Rejuvenate: Anti-ageing in the twentieth century

Ageing is a process which affects us all. Throughout human history we have tried to slow down and even reverse the effects of ageing. Dr James Stark (Research Fellow, Leeds Humanities Research Institute) will explore how and why a wide range of anti-ageing technologies and products gained popularity in the twentieth century, how our understanding of ageing and youth has changed and reflect on what it means to age.

Lipstick & Lace: Creative Workshop

Date: 23 January 2pm – 5.30pm

Performing Arts Studio

Design your own unique cosmetic bag using images from the No7 archive collection and an exquisite selection of laces, threads, cloths and other embellishments. Hosted by local craft practitioner Debbie Bryan, and helped along by a sumptuous afternoon tea, you will have the chance to create something truly individual. All materials provided. Booking essential. Maximum 20 people.

£15 per person

For general enquiries about the exhibition, please contact:

Manuscripts and Special Collections

The University of Nottingham, King’s Meadow Campus,

Lenton Lane, Nottingham NG7 2NR

0115 951 4565 / mss-library@nottingham.ac.uk / www.nottingham.ac.uk/mss

— Ends —

Our academics can now be interviewed for broadcast via our Media Hub, which offers a Globelynx fixed camera and ISDN line facilities at University Park campus. For further information please contact a member of the Communications team on +44 (0)115 951 5798, email mediahub@nottingham.ac.uk or see the Globelynx website for how to register for this service.

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with a “distinct” approach to internationalisation, which rests on those full-scale campuses in China and Malaysia, as well as a large presence in its home city.’ (Times Good University Guide 2016). It is also one of the most popular universities in the UK among graduate employers and the winner of ‘Research Project of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2014. It is ranked in the world’s top 75 by the QS World University Rankings 2015/16, and 8th in the UK by research power according to the Research Excellence Framework 2014. It has been voted the world’s greenest campus for three years running, according to Greenmetrics Ranking of World Universities.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…


Story credits

More information is available from Kathryn Steenson, Manuscripts and Special Collections at The University of Nottingham at Kathryn.Steenson@nottingham.ac.uk

Charlotte Anscombe – Media Relations Manager (Arts and Social Sciences)

Email: charlotte.anscombe@nottingham.ac.uk  Phone:+44 (0)115 74 84 417 Location: University Park

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