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Ginger classic as Roaring Forties fashion breezes in

When Ginger Rogers donned her white feather dress in Top Hat, one of the 10 films she made with Fred Astaire, the result was a classic of cinema history.

The stunning outfit has been recreated by fashion students at the University of East London for a series of shows at the Imperial War Museum to complement its current Forties Fashion exhibition.

Angela Godwin, the show organiser, said: "One of the most important influences on fashion in the Thirties and Forties was Hollywood. The original costumes have long since gone so we asked the students to make facsimile costumes. The white dress Ginger Rogers wore in Top Hat caused quite a lot of problems because the feathers got up Fred Astaire's nose."

Other dresses which have been copied for the fashion shows - which will take place on 16, 17 and 18 April - include the green-velvet curtain dress worn by Vivien Leigh in Gone With The Wind, a gold sequin number worn by Joan Crawford in The Women and a pale blue crinoline seen on Rita Hayworth in Cover Girl. Slightly more risque is a black satin, bare midriff dress as originally sported by Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not.

"There was a whole glamour side to fashion at a time when things weren't particularly glamorous," Ms Godwin said. "This is one of the most unusual eras of fashion from the absolutely luxurious to the totally practical."

Some of the more practical clothes are also demonstrated in the catwalk show of 150 costumes which could not be displayed in the main exhibition because of lack of space. They include a cape made from a blanket and men's pyjamas from a parachute.

The shows will be accompanied by the music of the era.