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Spice Girls collection mission for Liz West
Mel B's stage costume
A suit worn by Leeds-born Mel B is in the exhibition

As an exhibition of Spice Girls memorabilia opens in Leeds we talk to Liz West the owner of the collection.

Liz tells BBC Leeds how she has amassed almost 4000 items connected to the band.

Their debut single Wannabe topped the charts in 31 countries in 1996, the Spice Girls sold 80 million records and had nine UK number one singles.

The band's mantra was 'girl power' until they split in 2008.

Collector Liz who is originally from Barnsley but now lives in Huddersfield said: "For me interest started as soon as I heard them on BBC Radio 1 way back when, and then I saw the Wannabe film on Top Of The Pops.

"The Spice Girls introduced themselves and I thought 'Wow, what energy and attitude'.

Different personalities

"The girls all had different personalities so you could choose your favourite and that was important to me.

Liz West
Liz West is on a mission to collect Spice Girls items

"I was - first and foremost - a fan. I collected postcards of the girls in school and then when Christmas came along everything I got was Spice Girls related.

"I was lucky because from the start I left things I bought in the box so I must have had a collectors' instinct at an early age. Sometimes I bought two copies of something so I could actually play with one.

Whole set

"The biggest thing I got in the early days was a set of dolls including one doll for each of the girls. Of course I wanted the whole set and to collect each doll. So when I got them all that was a big thing.

"My pocket money was spent on collecting and the family helped me to buy Spice Girls-related things.

"In fact for some Christmases I went round choosing things to the value I was allowed and then got them all wrapped up as my presents.

"I have 3750 items in the collection and it is all catalogued on a spreadsheet.

"I take every chance to buy new things. On a recent trip to New York I took a list with a lot of American releases I wanted, and I managed to track a few things down.

Buying spree

Emma Bunton's dress
Another costume - this time worn by Emma Bunton

"Aged 18 I put the collection to sleep for a bit but then I discovered online sites and went on a buying spree that hasn't stopped.

"I regret that I didn't keep track of what I spent so I don't know what the total is. I'd quite like to know.

"I have the collection covered on insurance and in storage. A couple of the dresses are probably worth over a thousand pounds each. Lots of the pieces are not worth a great deal of money but together it's worth a lot.

"If I could keep hold of only one piece, it would be an item of stage clothing but I've got about 40 costumes so which one... I'll plump for a green tasselled dress worn by Gerri Halliwell on the Spice World tour in 1998. I saw her perform in that dress when I was a 12-year-old girl. So it is very special.

"The amount of stuff I have is incredible but I am on a real life-long mission to collect Spice Girls memorabilia."

The exhibition at Leeds City Museum in Millennium Square will be the first time Liz's entire collection has ever been on display.

The free exhibition runs from Friday 28 January until Sunday 3 July, 2011 at Leeds City Museum.

Spice Girls make history in Leeds
10 Jan 11 |  People & Places




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