Wardrobe WECS

Spring issue 2011
Free to members
Coldharbour Mill
and Killerton House
Saturday 18 June 2011
n Visit
Shops and Shopping
Saturday 8 October 2011
n Janet Arnold Study Day
BRLSI, Queen Square, Bath
Kelmscot and
Thursday 20 October 2011
n Visit
Christmas meeting
Saturday 19 November 2011
n Christmas meeting
Saturday 4 February 2012
Main image
Casanova’s coat
Spot the Difference Page 18
For king and country
Fashionistas Page 8
Knit one...
March Study Day Page 12
... Pearl one
Hand made tales Page 14
Wedding of the year
What will she wear? Page 7
Page 2 WECS Wardrobe Spring 2011
WECS events
Coldharbour Mill,
Uffculme and Killerton
Saturday 18 June 2011
n All day visit
A coach trip has been organised to visit
Coldharbour Mill in Uffculme near Tiverton,
Devon to see the woollen mill recently
featured on BBC2’s Edwardian Farm.
The mill was built by Thomas Fox in 1799
and is one of several based in the Culm
Valley that spun woollen and worsted
yarns, continuing production up until the
1980s. It is now run by a Trust and WECS
members will receive a guided tour and see
the various processes and machines used
to convert fleeces into yarn and cloth and
also have access to the dye house. The tour
will take around an hour, after which there
will be time for lunch in the café or picnic
in the grounds by the mill stream. A trip to
the shop, which sells yarns and textiles and
a visit to the Home Front exhibition are also
on offer.
We will then continue to Killerton House
(see panel, right) a short distance away.
Here, we will see the current exhibition,
Dressing up, Dressing down which tells
visitors about the correct thing to wear at
certain times of the day throughout history.
The costumes, taken from Killerton’s
superb collection, range from Georgian
through to Edwardian. We will be here for
around two hours, so there will also be
time to look around the house and have
tea if you so wish.
The cost of the trip is £25 for members
and £30 for non-members. There is an
additional charge of £7.20 for Killerton
House if you are not a member of the
National Trust. If you are a National Trust
member, please bring your card with you
on the day.
Booking form with this issue.
Trip timings:
Newbridge P&R
UWE Bus stop
Coldharbour Mill 11.00-14.00
Killerton House 14.30-16.30
Return UWE
Newbridge P&R
Shops and Shopping:
Fashion as pleasure and commerce
Saturday 8 October 2011
n Janet Arnold Study Day, BRSLI, Queen
Square, Bath
From the pedlar to the Internet,
shopping for clothes has always been
a predominantly female task as well as
a pleasure. This study day looks at the
changing face of shops and shopping
and its effect on fashion and fashionable
Kay Staniland will give an insight into
her new research on eighteenth century
shopping, while Anna Buruma will
Killerton flappers Dressing Up...
Many thanks to Jo of the Real McCoy who has supplied
lavishly beaded gowns for wear at the press launch.
Dressing Up, Dressing Down
Summer exhibition
n Killerton House, Broadclyst, Exeter, Devon EX5 3LE
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/killerton 01392 881345
Entry to the new exhibition is included in the admission price to Killerton House and is free to
National Trust members. There will be monthly Focus on Fashion drop in events from 14 March.
Dressing Up. Dressing Down follows the huge success of Killerton’s 2010 exhibition
Elegance, which showcased the most elegant fashions for men and women dating from
the 1770s to the 1970s.
The atmospheric displays and room sets for Dressing Up. Dressing Down have been
fashioned out of the 19,000 items in the Killerton costume collection which was begun
by Paulise de Bush who saved many exquisite 18th and 19th century costumes from
destruction during World War II.
What was the first thing an Edwardian child put on in the morning? What did Regency
gentlemen keep in their pockets? When would a Georgian lady use a fan or put on
her best jewellery and how would you get ready for a good night’s sleep in the 1920s?
The answers to all these questions and the reasons behind our ancestors changing their
clothing so many times during the day are uncovered in the new exhibition.
Shelley Tobin, Killerton’s Costume Curator said, ‘There was a huge amount of intricate
work involved in creating our new exhibition. We had 19th century silk afternoon
dresses to measure and fit to mannequins, 20th century jewellery to clean and we’ve
delicately mounted a splendid hand-embroidered Chinese silk banyan (dressing gown)
which is nearly 200 years old.’
Visitors can also see rare and specially conserved pieces including a patchwork and
appliqué coverlet made in 1810, fragments of seventeenth century printed textiles
originally part of bed-hangings recently discovered at Blenheim and stored at Godolphin
House, and children’s toys dating back to about 1900.
demonstrate the unique influence of
Liberty and Richard Lester the role of 1960s
And of course, some retail therapy at the
WECS Bazaar. Full details and booking
form in the summer issue of Wardrobe.
At home with William
Thursday 20 October 2011, 11.00 - 14.00
n Get-yourself-there visit to Kelmscott
The summer home of William Morris,
Kelmscott Manor is a Grade 1 listed
farmhouse built in 1600. Morris shared
the lease with the painter Dante Rossetti
and today the house holds an outstanding
collection of the possessions and works of
Morris and his associates, including textiles
and carpets. Share the journey with friends
and enjoy coffee followed by a conducted
tour. The afternoon can be spent strolling
in the house grounds and village or a visit
to the Cotswolds Woollen Weavers’ historic
mill near Lechlade, which is very close by.
Full details and booking form in the
summer issue of Wardrobe.
Christmas meeting
Saturday 19 November 2011
n Bowling Club, Pulteney Street, Bath
Full details and booking form in the
autumn issue of Wardrobe.
WECS Wardrobe Winter 2009 WECS Wardrobe Spring 2011 Page 3
Out & About
All items in ‘Out and About’ are published in good faith. WECS Wardrobe cannot be held responsible
for errors or omissions. Please check details before making a special journey.
Tommy Nutter:
The Rebel on the Row
20 May 2011 - 22 October
n Fashion and
Textile Museum, 83
Bermondsey Street,
London, SE1 3XF
020 7407 8664
When Nutters
opened in 1969 on
Savile Row, the staid
and traditional world
of bespoke tailoring
entered a new era.
Tommy Nutter, with
master cutter Edward Sexton, combined
up-to-the minute styling with classic
techniques to create the brand that set the
Row swinging. The shop - financed by Cilla
Black, James Vallance White, and Beatles’
executive Peter Brown – opened up the
experience of bespoke tailoring; catering
to rock stars, artists and aristocrats who
wanted to custom fit with the new shapes
and details pioneered at Nutters.
This exciting new exhibition at the Fashion
and Textile Museum promises to not
only explore the Nutter style, but to also
analyse the contribution of this legendary
individual in the marketing and branding of
a Savile Row company. The range of suits
on display will take visitors through the
changes that Nutter introduced and will
place his work in the social and historical
context of the late 1960s to 1990s.
Essential accessories: Handbags
and heels
Until 17 July 2011
n The Lightbox, Chobham Road, Woking,
Surrey, GU21 4AA
01483 737800
This unmissable show delves into the
fascinating history of these two most
essential, yet at times aspirational, items.
This new exhibition at the award-winning
gallery in Woking takes a unique look at
the evolution of handbags and shoes from
the 16th Century to the latest ‘musthave’ designs, as seen on the catwalks of
London, New York and Milan. Bringing
-Hollywood Icon -
Black chiffon
trimmed with
red satin rose
Niagara 1953
12 March - 30 October 2011
n The American Museum in Britain, Claverton Manor, Bath, BA2 7BD
01225 460503
Closed Mondays except during August and bank holidays
The life lived by Marilyn Monroe is a tale of triumph and tragedy.
Marilyn – Hollywood Icon is a celebration of the enduring
legacy of the fabulous blonde who gentlemen (and the rest of
us) continue to prefer above all others. Unlike other ‘Marilyn’
exhibitions of recent years, the American Museum’s 50th
anniversary extravaganza will be packed full of costumes
actually worn by Monroe, as well as original photographs
and posters and personal items from the private collection of
David Gainsborough Roberts, an extraordinary gathering of
celebrity memorabilia created during the past two decades.
The exhibition will feature twenty of the screen goddess’s
gowns and outfits including the red sequinned gown
worn by Marilyn in Gentleman Prefer Blondes (1953); the
green show costume Marilyn wore
in Bus Stop (1956), which won her
a Golden Globe; and the iconic
cocktail dress from Some Like it Hot
(1959) in which Marilyn crooned ‘I’m
Through With Love’. Personal items
owned by Marilyn Monroe will also
be exhibited here for the first time
in the UK. Poignantly, these include
the silver ring given to the star
by her disturbed mother, Gladys,
who spent most of her life in
mental institutions, as did Marilyn’s
This promises to be a truly show
stopping spectacle of an exhibition
and one not to be missed!
Handbags and heels
Bag embroidered with thistles and initials
J.R.8 for James VIII, The Old Pretender.
Scotland early C18th, ‘Camata’ Manolo
Blahnik, 2000-2001, Leather handbag with
cover-sheet of tortoise-shell inlaid with
mother-of-pearl Germany 1810s. Bags
courtesy of the Museum of Bags and Purses,
Amsterdam and Leo Potma, shoes courtesy of
The Shoe Collection Northampton Museums
together handbags from the internationally
renowned Museum of Bags and Purses in
Amsterdam, with women’s shoes from the
UK national collection of historic shoes in
Northampton Museums and Art Gallery,
the exhibition promises to be a wonderful
feast for the eyes.
There are workshops, talks and tours
connected with the exhibition. Advance
booking is recommended: 01483 737837
to reserve your place.
Sport to Street
Until 3 July 2011
n Northampton Museum & Art Gallery,
Guildhall Road, Northampton, NN1 1DP
01604 838111
Closed Mondays. Admission Free
An exhibition that traces the history of the
training shoe from the earliest pair to the
iconic brands we know today is currently
on show at Northampton Museum
and Art Gallery, home to one of the
world’s most famous shoe collections.
Sport to Street follows the lifespan
of the training shoe, from its early
beginnings as a soft-soled tennis
shoe worn by Henry VIII to the
iconic footwear of choice that it
has become today.
Sport to Street looks at the rise
of rubber-soled footwear for
sports in the 19th century and the
early sneakers manufactured by
legendary US companies Converse
and Keds. By the 1970s trainers
were still predominantly worn by
sportsmen and women for their
comfort and performance-enhancing
design. This only started to change with
the craze for aerobics, health and fitness
and improved trainer technology that
helped move them away from being simply
practical items to footwear that makes a
fashion statement. The exhibition, which
features leading brands including Adidas,
Nike, Puma, Reebok and New Balance
along side the oldest known running
shoe worn in the early 1860s by the then
Lord Spencer, delves into the relationship
between brands and sub cultures as well as
brands and celebrities.
“The story of the rise of the trainer from
its humble beginnings as a simple
Out & About continued on next page
Page 4 WECS Wardrobe Spring 2011
sports shoe to its status today as one of the
coolest items of footwear is fascinating”
says Rebecca Shawcross, Northampton
Borough Council Museum’s resident shoe
expert. “We are lucky to have what is fast
becoming the best trainer collection in the
world, and this is the first time we have
ever showcased so many in one place at
one time.”
Also on show at Northampton Museum
and Art Gallery until 8 May 2011 is
photography exhibition Sneaker Peek,
the culmination of a three-month project
funded by the Heritage Lottery Collecting
Cultures scheme, which gave young people
the chance to work with professional artist
and photographer Kenneth Martin and
explore the museum’s growing collection
of sneakers before taking the photographs
featured in the show.
A Personal Collection of Vivienne
Westwood Shoes
Until 2 May 2011
n The Hub: National Centre for Craft &
Design, Navigation Wharf, Carre Street,
Sleaford, Lincolnshire, NG34 7TW
01529 308710
[email protected]
A Personal Collection
... most
of Vivienne Westwood
innovative and
Shoes on show now at
iconic examples
The Hub until 2 May
of Westwood’s
2011 features an opulent
work in shoe
display of footwear by
the doyenne of British
fashion, Dame Vivienne
Westwood. Westwood, best known for
the creation of punk fashion with Malcolm
McLaren in the 1970s, has a reputation for
innovation in design, often using traditional
styles and materials in surprising ways.
Dress for Excess: Fashion in Regency England
Until 5 February 2012
n Royal Pavilion, 4/5 Pavilion Buildings, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 1EE
03000 290902
Dress for Excess: Fashion in Regency England celebrates the life of
George IV as Prince, Regent and King, through the fashions of the late
Georgian period. The exhibition marks the 200th anniversary of the
Regency Act, which was passed on 5 February 1811, passing the powers
of the monarchy to George as his father was ill, and provides an insight
into the way these fashions from the late 18th and early 19th century
have helped to influence the clothes we wear today.
George loved fashion and design - the more opulent and extravagant the better
- and the exotic, oriental design of the Royal Pavilion which was his seaside
residence, bears testament to this. His coronation was the most expensive
in British history and his huge coronation robe is going on public display for
the first time in 30 years. The silk velvet robe, which is trimmed with ermine,
measures more than five metres (16 feet) long and needed eight bearers rather
than the usual six to carry it at the coronation.
The exhibition will include men and women’s fashions, from a tailored dandy’s
costume and military uniform worn at the Battle of Waterloo to elegant highwaisted cotton muslin gowns and beautiful silk garments, highlighting style
influences from the period and themes from George’s life. The costumes are
displayed across a number of rooms, set against the grand backdrop of the Royal
A new exhibition space, the Prince Regent Gallery, is dedicated to George
himself. On display will be items of his clothes, including
a beautifully printed banyan (an early form of indoor
coat or dressing gown) from the 1770s and huge breeches
worn towards the end of his life as his waistline expanded.
Alongside his coronation robe will be two costumes worn
in his coronation procession. “More than any other
monarch, George knew the power of dress” says Martin
Pel, Curator of Fashion and Textiles at the Royal Pavilion
and Museums. “Whether it was the dandy fashions of his
youth or the military uniforms he wore as an adult, as he
sought a role for himself while waiting nearly 60 years to
be crowned king. His love of fashion was not merely an
expensive indulgence, but a significant part in creating who George was”.
It is only the second time a fashion exhibition has been held in the Royal
Pavilion and the building’s rich collections of furniture, textiles and decorative
arts promise to provide the perfect setting to bring the pieces to life.
This exhibition is based around a collection
of shoes amassed over the past 15 years by
a private collector and showcases some of
the most innovative and iconic examples of
Westwood’s work in shoe design. From the
pirate boots of her first catwalk collection
to the roman sandals and pedestal style
platforms, the displays span the entirety of
the designer’s high fashion career, from the
1970s onwards, whilst at the same time
raising questions surrounding the reasons
behind our continued lust for beautiful
shoes and the boundaries between fashion
and art.
In an age when the British obsession with
shoes is, it would seem, unabated by the
recession (recent figures show that 2.5
million British women own over thirty pairs
of shoes, and footwear is the only area of
the luxury goods market to have enjoyed
growth in our current climate of austerity)
this exhibition aims to explore just what is
it, then, that makes shoes so desirable, so
irresistible, and so of the moment.
Traditional Jewellery and Dress
from the Balkans
Until 11 September 2011
n The British Museum, Great Russell Street,
London, WC1B 3DG
020 7323 8299
This new display of
Traditional Jewellery
and Dress from the
Balkans showcases a
Serbian waistcoat
selection of late 19th
and early 20th century
objects from the British
Museum’s outstanding collections of
jewellery and textiles from the countries of
the former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Albania
and northern Greece. Complementing the
silver jewellery from Oman also currently
on display, the exhibition looks at European
societies where dress and jewellery play a
similar role, as indicators of identity and
protection for the wearer.
The jewellery on show was worn by rural,
often wealthy, communities and was a
crucial part of the lavish and complicated
costumes worn as bridal outfits, for festive
occasions, for dancing, and for daily wear.
Balkan jewellery was made professionally
in a small number of centres, resulting in
a similarity of types and designs across
the whole area: colossal clasps, head
ornaments hung with clusters of rustling
pendants, or chains strung with coins and
pinned across the body, to mark rites of
passage, protect from evil spirits and to
create a jangling accompaniment to music
when dancing.
By contrast, the textiles were made locally,
varying distinctly from village to village, so
that the wearer’s origin was immediately
recognisable. The Balkan region is
mountainous and, before the creation of
roads, communications were extremely
difficult. Settlements were isolated,
encouraging the survival of traditional
customs. One of the highlights of the
display is a pair of complete early 20thcentury wedding costumes with jewellery
WECS Wardrobe Spring 2011 Page 5
for a bridal couple from Galičnik, a village
in the mountainous region of south-west
Macedonia (the former Yugoslav Republic).
The exhibition is accompanied by a series
of free gallery talks examining Balkan
jewellery and dress in the context of
traditions and ceremony and its place in
daily life.
Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty
4 May 2011 – 31 July 2011
n Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York,
Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty will
celebrate the late Alexander McQueen’s
extraordinary contributions to fashion.
Organised by the Costume Institute, the
exhibition takes a look back over two
decades of McQueen’s work, beginning
with his graduate collection from Central
St Martins College of Art of 1992, right
through to his final collection, which
was shown in the weeks after his death
in February 2010. The museum has also
borrowed a significant number of outfits
from Isabella Blow’s personal collection,
which were all bought by Daphne Guinness
earlier this year, as well as highlights from
McQueen’s tenure at Givenchy.
The exhibition will be arranged thematically
rather than chronologically and will
feature over 100 examples of work from
the designer’s 19-year career, including
signature designs such as the bumster
trouser, the kimono jacket, and the Origami
frock coat, as well as pieces reflecting the
exaggerated silhouettes of the 1860s,
1880s, 1890s, and 1950s that he crafted
into contemporary silhouettes transmitting
romantic narratives. It will begin with a
gallery entitled The Savage Mind, which
will examine McQueen’s subversion of
traditional tailoring, while other rooms
will focus on his recurring fascination with
Romantic literary traditions such as death,
decay and darkness.
Other highlights will include the McQueen
tartan from his Highland Rape collection
and a mini projection of the infamous Kate
Moss dancing hologram, which debuted
after the model’s cocaine scandal in 2006.
The exhibition will surely benefit from the
appointment of Sam Gainsbury and Joseph
Bennett, who helped produce so many of
McQueen’s theatrical catwalk shows, as
creative consultants.
Regarded by his contemporaries as a true
fashion genius, McQueen challenged and
expanded the understanding of fashion
beyond utility to a conceptual expression of
culture, politics, and identity. Many believe
his iconic designs constitute the work of
an artist whose medium of expression was
“After McQueen’s death, we wanted to
stage an exhibition to celebrate his legacy
in fashion history and his contributions
to fashion.” Andrew Bolton, who is
spearheading the show along with curator
Harold Koda told Women’s Wear Daily.
“McQueen had such a singular voice and
Yohji Yamamoto
until 10 July 2011
n Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell
Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 2RL
020 7942 2000 www.vam.ac.uk
This spring, the Victoria and Albert Museum will present the first UK
solo exhibition celebrating the life and work of visionary Japanese
fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto. The exhibition will explore the work
of a designer who has challenged, provoked and inspired the fashion
Considered one of the most influential and enigmatic fashion designers
of the last forty years, Yamamoto has made a vital contribution to
fashion, defying traditional norms of clothing with his avant-garde style.
Yamamoto became internationally renowned in the early 1980s for
challenging traditional notions of fashion by designing garments that
seemed oversized and unfinished. He played with ideas of gender and
designed with fabrics not normally used in fashionable attire such as felt
or neoprene. The pieces on show reveal Yamamoto’s unusual pattern
cutting, extraordinary knowledge of fashion history and great sense of
humour. His work is characterised by a frequent and skilful use of black,
a colour which he describes as ‘modest and arrogant at the same time’.
This installation-based retrospective, taking place 30 years after his
Paris debut, will feature over 80 garments spanning Yamamoto’s career.
Conceived as a site-specific installation with its core in Gallery 38 and
small interventions throughout the V&A, the exhibition narrative will
explore the design world of Yamamoto. The main exhibition space will
house over 60 creations, including menswear designs on show for the
first time and a multi-media timeline which reveals Yamamoto’s wider
creative output.
Sleeveless white felt dress with large
collar: Yohji Yamamoto
Autumn/Winter 1996-7
Juste des Vêtements exhibition
Musée de la Mode et du Textile, Paris,
© Courtesy of Gael Amzalag
he was a remarkable technician. He really
was one of the most provocative voices of
the past 30 years in fashion. His catwalk
presentations were outstanding and
straddle art and fashion. We want to get
across two elements - the spectacle of the
runway presentations and the beauty of his
By Royal Appointment: Hardy
Amies and Norman Hartnell Brides
Until 29th May 2011
n Hardy Amies, 14 Savile Row, London,
View by appointment only: 0207 734 2436
This special exhibition staged by the
Curator of the Hardy Amies Archive, Austin
Mutti-Mewse, gives a respectful nod to the
Royal Wedding this spring, by featuring
some exquisite Hardy Amies bridal gown
creations, spanning six decades.
Elegantly timeless, the gowns are a tribute
to Hardy Amies’ adage that “A bride
should always choose something classic
over anything remotely gimmicky”. The
gowns shimmer in taffeta, satin and silk
– in exquisite shades of cream-tinged offwhite, delicate ivory and tantalizing vanilla,
with a slight glimmer of gold.
From Jane McNeill, The Duchess of
Buccleuch and Lady Janet Milford-Haven to
Henrietta Spencer Churchill, Princess Olga
Romanoff and the Hon. Geraldine Ogilvy,
all the great families came to Hardy Amies
for their gown and trousseau.
As well as Hardy Amies brides, the
exhibition is showcasing the 1929 wedding
dress of Oonagh Guinness, designed by Sir
Norman Hartnell that wowed the crowds
on its unveiling, 82 years ago. So amazing
was Hartnell’s design – a muted satin gown
covered in thousands of seed pearls – that
reportedly at least one onlooker fainted
outside the church on witnessing such
great splendour! Beautifully restored by
Miss Peggy Umpelby, formally of Locks,
each gown has been pressed painstakingly
by Miss Isabelle Rowland, who worked for
Hardy Amies for over a decade. Andrew
Prince has given the exhibition added
sparkle by loaning exquisite tiaras from
Ogden of Harrogate.
Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother)
was a huge fan of Norman Hartnell
and insisted he would design both her
daughters’ bridal gowns: Princess Elizabeth,
in 1947; and Princess Margaret, in 1960. A
gilt-framed embroidery panel for Princess
Elizabeth’s wedding gown provides the
centerpiece for this exhibition.
Former Hardy Amies Chief Designer, Mr Jon
Moore, remembers being asked in 1981
to sketch wedding dresses for a ‘country
bride’, not realising then that the bride
was Lady Diana Spencer! These designs
also on display illustrate what might have
been had the House of Hardy Amies been
chosen. Bringing the collection up to
date is the morning suit made for Lord
Freddie Windsor on his marriage to Sophie
Winkleman – and a new wedding dress
creation from the Hardy Amies Ready-tocontinued on page six
Page 6 WECS Wardrobe Spring 2011
continued from page five
wear collection, which in its simplistic style
and design pays tribute to some of the
gowns from the past.
The Cult of Beauty:
The Aesthetic
Movement 18601900
2 April – 17 July 2011
n Victoria and
Albert Museum,
Portrait of Mrs. Luke
Cromwell Road, South lonides, William Blake
Kensington, London, Richmond, England,
1882. Museum no.
020 7942 2000 www.
This is the first major exhibition to
comprehensively explore Aestheticism,
an extraordinary artistic movement
which sought to escape the ugliness and
materialism of the Victorian era by creating
a new kind of art and beauty. It shows
how Aesthetic artists, designers, poets and
collectors promoted the idea of ‘art for
art’s sake’ and how the idea of the ‘house
beautiful’ became a touchstone of cultured
The Cult of Beauty will be arranged in four
main chronological sections, charting the
development of the Aesthetic Movement
in art and design through the decades
from the 1860s to the 1890s. As well as
paintings, prints and drawings, the show
will include examples of all the ‘artistic’
decorative arts, together with drawings,
designs and photographs, as well as
portraits, fashionable dress and jewellery
of the era. Literary life will be represented
by some of the most beautiful books of
the day, whilst a number of set-pieces will
reveal the visual world of the Aesthetes,
evoking the kind of rooms and ensembles
of exquisite objects through which they
expressed their sensibilities.
Joyce Ridings, a retrospective
11 May - 3 September 2011
n Gallery of Costume, Platt Hall, Rusholme,
Manchester, M14 5LL
0161 245 7245
Wednesday-Saturday 13.30-16.30pm.
Joyce Ridings has designed in the fashion
industry since graduating from Manchester
Polytechnic in the late 1960s and with
her label, Qui, and her iconic shop, she
regularly produces strikingly imaginative
collections. This show presents a flavour
of her 40 years of creative but eminently
wearable designs.
Brides Revisited: Wedding
Dress Study Day
Saturday 14 May
n Chertsey Museum, Surrey
Includes a tour of the current
exhibition Brides Revisited,
wedding gowns from the Olive
Matthews Collection: 1780
to 2001, with Veronica Isaac,
Keeper of Costume.
The Little Black Dress
Saturday 21 May 2011 14.00
n Portsmouth City Museum,
Museum Road, Portsmouth PO1
Tour the exhibition of dresses
from the Hampshire Museum
Services Collection with the
curator, Alison Carter. Southern
Counties free event. www.
sccostumesociety.org.uk for
booking form.
Vintage Motoring
Costumes at Beaulieu
Wednesday 29 June 2011,
n The National Motor Museum
Beaulieu, Hampshire SO42 7ZN
01590 612345
[email protected]
A visit to the National Motor
Museum to see their collection
of motoring coats, goggles,
helmets and gloves. A Southern
Counties event. www.
sccostumesociety.org.uk for
booking form.
Pleasure, Leisure, Travel
and Fashion:
8-10 July 2011
n Eastbourne
[email protected]
Costume Society annual
symposium, with Keynote
speakers Dr Sarah Cheung,
London College of Fashion;
Anthea Jarvis, Dress Historian
and Philip Warren, Principal
Curator of Collections at
Leicester County Council
Textile Fair
Sunday 2 October 2011 10.30-16.30
n Chelsea Old Town Hall, Kings
Road, London SW3 5EE (new
0207 359 7678
continued on page sixteen
A unique Opportunity to see
Tudor Skills in a Tudor Garden
- embroidery, music and costume
4 June 2011
The Old Deanery,
9 Cathedral Green,
Donations welcome!
Refreshments available
Plants for sale
The secret garden of the Old Deanery in Wells has been revived
over the last eight years by a team of volunteers as a tribute to
Elizabethan Dean William Turner. The Dean was the author
of the first book in English to describe plants for their medicinal
use and the garden has a collection of medicinal and cloth-dying
plants, old roses and varieties of fruit trees known in Tudor times.
See these in the
On display will be:
room where
Q lots of samples of Blackwork
ry VII
O hats inspired by the wives of Henry VIII Hen
Q preparation of herbs and potions
Q bee keeper with honey, beeswax products and
Q Tudor music played on instruments of the time
All those taking part belong to the Tudor and Stuart Living History
Society Group and will be wearing costumes researched and made by
the members.
Keen photographers will have
a magnificent view of Wells
Cathedral from the ramparts.
What’s on at Waddesden
until 30 October 2011
n Waddesdon Manor, Near Aylesbury,
Buckinghamshire, HP18 0JH
30 March 2011 to 30 October 2011
01296 653226
There are three new costume
displays at Waddesdon for
the 2011 season. A selection
of lace acquired by Baroness
Edmond de Rothschild (18531935), shows 18th-century
lappets, part of a fashionable
woman’s headdress. Baroness
Edmond collected the
exquisite French, Brussels
and Venetian lace now at
Blue coat and dress
Waddesdon, along with the
of a Consul
popular buttons, on long-term uniform
General of Austria,
display. Also featured is a pair probably French, circa
of uniforms, newly on loan
1821 and later; on loan
from the Rothschild family,
from the Rothschild
thought to have been worn
by Baron James de Rothschild
(1792-1868) and his son, Gustave (1829-1911), as
Consuls General of Austria.
Hand in glove
Finally, The Glove Collection Trust (a group of Trustees
drawn from the Worshipful Company of Glovers of
London to care for their historic collections) has lent
the National Trust their General Collection of 19th and
20th century gloves.
The initial collection comprises 140 pairs of gloves
drawn from all over the world, reflecting fashionable
taste and commemorating events over 200 years.
Occasionally, new acquisitions are made. The loan
arrangement means that the gloves are stored at
Waddesdon and will be available by appointment to
researchers with an interest in historic gloves. They will
also be featured in rotating displays and exhibitions at
Waddesdon, which has a collection of costume and
accessories acquired by members of the Rothschild
For more information on the Worshipful Company
of Glovers and their historic collections, see www.
thegloverscompany.org and for catalogue information
on the gloves, see www.glovecollectioncatalogue.org
WECS Wardrobe Spring 2011 Page 7
n Fashion Museum,
Assembly Rooms, Bennett
Street, Bath, BA1 2QH
01225 477789
What Will She Wear?
The Enduring Romance of the
Wedding Dress
Until January 2012
A special display to celebrate the
Royal weddings of 2011 opened
at the Fashion Museum in Bath on
St Valentine’s Day. Inspired by the
question on everyone’s lips since
Prince William and Kate Middleton
announced their engagement back in
November 2010, the Fashion Museum’s
latest exhibition is a celebration and
confection of bridal style through the
“The Royal weddings in April and later this
year give us the perfect opportunity to
share the riches of the Fashion Museum’s
collection of wedding dresses with our
visitors,” commented Rosemary Harden,
Manager of the Council-run Fashion
As they descend the staircase to the
galleries, visitors are welcomed by a display
of 35 historic and contemporary wedding
dresses from 1829 through to 2010,
each exquisite and unique in its own way.
Handpicked for the exhibition are wedding
dresses lovingly made of the finest silks
brocaded with metal thread, lustrous silk
satins, even crisp white nylons; some of
the dresses are decorated with ribbons
and bows, some with cascades of antique
lace and some are just heart-stoppingly
beautiful in their pared-down classical
elegance. “We are aiming to show the
richness and variety of the white wedding
dress down the ages, as well of course the
enduring romance of the traditional style”.
Cheek to cheek
The earliest 19th century styles dance
cheek to cheek with more contemporary
designs by Vera Wang and Alberta Feretti
and the exhibition highlights how wedding
dress designers have always drawn on
the past for inspiration. Visual delights
include the nostalgic styles of the 1980s
to the heritage silhouette of an Alexander
McQueen gown worn by luxury jewellery
and accessories designer Lara Bohinc in
2010 that makes use of 18th century style
panniers. Celebrity watchers will appreciate
Behind the Scenes at the Fashion
Museum: The Historic Collection
Continuing throughout 2011
Step inside the Fashion Museum’s wardrobe with a new exhibition that
showcases the museum’s collection of 19th century fashions as it has
never been seen before. Rather than a traditional display, visitors will
have the rare chance to enter the museum stores to see hundreds of
artefacts on racks and rails, in boxes and cupboards, and on shelves and
display stands.
From Kashmir and Paisley woollen shawls to crochet trimmed cotton
drawers and camisoles, from colourful silk satin shoes of the 1880s and
1890s to cobweb lace and silk fringed parasols with carved wooden
handles, Behind the Scenes at the Fashion Museum will present the
riches of the Fashion Museum’s historic collection to museum visitors
in an innovative and informative way.
Manager of Bath and North East Somerset Council’s Fashion Museum,
Rosemary Harden said:
“In this display we are giving visitors a glimpse through the keyhole, and
inviting them behind the scenes into the museum store. The collection here at the
Fashion Museum is so numerous and so full of treasures, this is a great new
way to share the collection and to convey that sense of wonder to our visitors.
We’re describing it as a sort of Narnia experience, stepping into the biggest
wardrobe ever, with at least 100 years worth of clothes, and nearly everything
in the new gallery installation over 100 years old”.
Some dresses and ensembles will also be displayed on stands, including
the stone coloured silk sarcenet pelisse worn by Annabella Milbanke
the day after she married Lord Byron in January 1815. There will also
be beautiful fashions by Worth of Paris from the early 20th century,
including the yellow embroidered silk evening gown worn by Lady
Curzon. An exhibition not to be missed!
Images on this page courtesy of The Fashion Museum, Bath and North East Somerset Council
a rather risqué design by Bruce Oldfield
worn by model Lisa Butcher at her 1991
wedding to chef Marco Pierre White.
Each dress has been superbly styled by
well-known fashion writer and Fashion
Museum Consultant Iain R. Webb using
flowers created by our very own WECS
Care and Access Team who volunteer at
the Fashion Museum on Friday mornings.
Using a whole range of materials from
tissue and paper to plastic bags and
packaging foam, Jean Scott and her team
have created floral masterpieces that have
been carefully arranged into headdresses
and posies to unite the brides and give
each a fashion forward catwalk look.
The display at the Fashion Museum also
includes a selection of 25 framed sepia
photographs, all part of a previously
unseen archive collection of 1930s
wedding dresses by legendary Paris couture
house of Worth.
Speculation is rife about just who will be
designing Kate’s dress with Bruce Oldfield,
Phillipa Lepley, Erdem and Alexander
McQueen chief designer Sarah Burton all
rumoured to be in the running. Visitors
to What Will She Wear? can decide for
themselves which style on show Kate is
most likely to favour on April 29th as well
as dream and reminisce about their very
own special wedding dress.
Page 8 WECS Wardrobe Spring 2011
WECS Reports
Freedom Fighters, Folk Revival and Fashionistas:
The role of costume in the quest for national identity in Eastern Europe
Speaker: Pamela Smith
Report by Elaine Uttley
After the business of the AGM,
WECS members welcomed back
Pamela Smith, an independent
consultant on Russian arts and
culture, whose fascination with
national costume began as a
small child with her collection
of international dolls. Pamela
explained how regional and
national costume played an
important part in the movements
taking place in many Eastern
European and Balkan countries
in the late nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries. With the break
up of the Ottoman, Russian, AustroHungarian Empires these countries
were striving to re-establish their
own national identities.
Pamela declared that there was no such
thing as a national dress in Eastern Europe.
As the borders were constantly changing
in this time of great flux, it is perhaps more
truthful to call it ethnic rather than national
costume. A merger of arts and politics saw
nationalists looking to costume as a way
of asserting independence over outside
influences during occupation. There are
hundreds and thousands of different
versions of national dress and certain
characteristics were settled on to become
the ‘official’ costume. One inspiration
was the Balkan Bandit, an 18th century
freedom fighter against Turkish rule and
high imposed taxes. Certain elements of
their dress such as jackets with frogging
and lacing became associated with their
cause and it became a sign of patriotism
to wear braided jackets rather than the
Vienna fashions in Croatia,
then part of the AustrianHungarian Empire.
There was also
an assertion of
patriotism by the
rulers, such as the
Royal family.
Emperor Franz
Joseph in the 1860s
wore Hungarian style
dress to reassure and
placate his Hungarian
subjects. Hungarian
‘gala’ dress in the midnineteenth century borrowed
elements from the dress of Hungarian
peasants. Empress Elisabeth at her
Anticlockwise from the left: Frogging on a military
style jacket; Podhole embroidered trousers;
Rumanian Children in 2007; Ruslana, Ukranian
winner of 2004 Eurovision song contest;
Headdress from the 2006 collection of Alena
Akhmadulina; Russian lad, 1900, in his scrubbed
and polished best; Miss Russia, 1930; Empress
Elisabeth at her coronation
coronation in 1867 wore a Worth gown
with ‘peasant style’ pearl lacing. Queen
Marie of Romania and her son Prince
Nicolae were photographed in 1905 in a
smart version of Romanian peasant dress,
which became available as a postcard.
Intellectuals such as Tolstoy favoured folk
and peasant style attire on their estates and
at social events in St Petersburg, although
Pamela pointed out that these were silk not
linen peasant shirts!
It was more a case of a mix and match
of items from different regions than
necessarily authentic pieces that made
up these ideas of national dress. Polish
costume from the Podhole region in
the Tatra mountains morphed into the
country’s national costume. Its origin was
actually only one tiny region of Poland, but
it became the definitive idea of its national
WECS Wardrobe Spring 2011 Page 9
How Granny’s Hobby
Got Hip
Speaker Dr Jo Turney
Report by Caroline Bartlett
dress. The Miss World beauty pageant was
won in the 1930s by Miss Russia wearing
ethnic dress, which Pamela noted was a
complete theatrical version.
As mentioned, there were political
undertones to the wearing of national
dress in Eastern Europe. 1919 saw lots of
Baltic states have a taste of independence
before domination by Germany and Russia
from 1941 and total Soviet influence by
1948. During the 1930s, it became popular
for sitters of formal studio photographs
in Bulgaria to wear national dress to
demonstrate pride in their heritage in a
country run by outside forces. Conversely,
national costume was also used as a
celebration of the Soviet Union. Postcards
were produced by the state in the 1950s
and 1960s showing all the different Soviet
countries through their so-called national
costumes. National dress was encouraged
at state events, but discouraged and
forbidden at private events. It was also
used as a protest by performers and
audiences at song festivals in the Balkan
Today, the outfits of the wedding party in
Romania still include elements of national
dress, although in a much more simplified
form and Russian fashion designer, Alena
Akhmadulina included elements of national
dress in her couture collections in 2006.
Eastern European national dress is now
primarily produced as souvenirs for tourists
and not worn in a genuine fashion. We
should be wary of any declarations of
authenticity as national dress in Eastern
Europe is an artificial construct.
This was a fascinating journey through
Eastern European history accompanied by
some wonderful images and interesting
observations from Pamela on the rôle of
national costume throughout the region’s
volatile and colourful past.
On a gorgeous spring morning, WECS members
and guests were introduced to Dr Jo Turney, Course
Leader for the MA Investigating Fashion Design at
Bath Spa University. Jo gave us a very lively talk
exploring the reasons why knitting has become so
popular in recent times, so much so that knitting,
particularly in public, has become ubiquitous. She
encouraged us to consider why there should have been such a resurgence in
the popularity of knitting in recent years, and expressed the view that at a time
when the world seems to be a particularly anxious place, knitting may be a
comforting pastime.
Historically, knitting
has always been
popular during
wartime when
knitting circles were
formed to knit for
soldiers at the front
and this obviously has
roots in the tradition
of knitting for loved
ones as a way of
showing love and
appreciation. Because
it has been carried
on for generations,
everyone is familiar
with older members
From the top: Dr Jo Turney, Banksy’s Knitting
of the family
Grannies and Marianne Christianson’s knitted
knitting. That sense
take on a tank top
of familiarity and
timelessness confers a comforting, homely,
safe feeling to knitting as a whole.
The great thing about knitting is that it is
something everyone can learn to do. Very
little equipment is actually required and
Lisa Auerbach, an American Knit Artist has
therefore it is very portable. Furthermore in
specialised in knitwear with a message
what can be quite a lonely world, if you knit
and Jo showed us an example entitled
in public other people will almost certainly
“Good Money Never Made Times Bad”. At
talk to you about what you are doing or
the other end of the spectrum, she also
making. The upsurge in knitting has created
showed us an adorable knitted cupcake,
many knitting circles where experienced
demonstrating that for some people
knitters are able to help beginners and even
knitting is all about creation and the joy of
to Bitch and Knit Groups!
knitting, not necessarily for wearing, and in
In an age where most of us no longer
this respect knitting today is very different
produce anything of substance, activities
from the last resurgence in the 1970s, a
requiring considerable application
time of tank tops, etc.!
combined with the idea of creating
Jo left us with her view that the current
something are very appealing. Knitting is a
trend for knitting was on the wane, as
very tactile hobby, where the maker is very
regardless of how stimulating an activity
much in contact with her/his materials and
it can be, it is still subject to fashion and
it can be very absorbing. As a result the
there is always a quest for something new.
knitter can find the whole process quite
From the huge knitted scarves shown on
therapeutic – perhaps even meditative –
the catwalk by Giles Deacon in 2007 to
giving rise to the expression “Knitting is
kits available to purchase at Tesco, the high
the new Yoga”! Apparently there is even a
to low dissemination of fashion has been
book entitled Zen and the Art of Knitting.
completed and knitting in Jo’s opinion, is
At a time when celebrities such as Nigella
now outdated and old-fashioned. This is
Lawson and retailer, Cath Kidston exploit
also partly because the new knitters could
the idea of a woman being a domestic
start with knit-kits, but there exists a dearth
goddess in the home as well as a whore in
of projects between the basic and the
the bedroom, knitting has also been made
complex that halts further advancement. A
to seem seductive.
number of members commented that with
knitting groups promoting learning this
Knitting has even found its way into
should not be the case, but perhaps only
art with Banksy’s Knitting Grannies and
time will tell. A fascinating and thoughtsculpture as in Marianne Christianson’s
provoking perspective on the recent
knitted tank cover being a protest against
popularity of knitting.
Page 10 WECS Wardrobe Spring 2011
‘Yarns of love and money’
Victorian knitted and beaded purses and other highlights of the Montse
Stanley collection, University of Southampton
Speaker: Barbara Burman
Report by Pat Poppy
Barbara Burman
Miser purse knitted in a
paisley patterns of dark
blue, beige, and pink silk,
with faceted steel beads
knitted in. Tassels of steel
beading. Sliders of faceted
steel. 14” long, including
tassels. c. 1790.
Barbara Burman, the second speaker of the day gave two fascinating talks for
the price of one. The first half of Barbara’s lecture focused on the life and work
of the wonderful Montse Stanley (1942-1999), whose Handknitter’s
Handbook, and Mil Anys de Disseny en Punt both sit on my
bookshelves. The second half was on the long or miser purses
of the nineteenth century, especially those in Montse Stanley’s
collection, held at the University of Southampton Library.
First half
Barbara spoke of Montse Stanley’s early years in Spain, living in
Barcelona, a town where one could obtain knitting patterns sized to
your individual measurements. Montse brought this tradition with her
to England after her marriage to Tom Stanley in 1973, when she wrote
the book Knitting Your Own Designs, which showed people how to
size garments to fit them. It was while living in Cambridge that she set
up her Knitting Reference Library. This was Montse’s private collection
of knitted items, knitting tools and ephemera such as knitting patterns, photographs and
When Monste Stanley decided to donate her collection to the University of Southampton,
she apparently declared, “my collection has grown up, it is old enough to go to
university”! Montse also formed the Early Knitting History Group with an aim to look
specifically at pre 1600 knitting, and it was through this that I met her in the early 1990s.
As Barbara commented, the history of knitting had been on the margins and it was
Montse’s boundless enthusiasm that helped drag it into the mainstream.
The second half
The second half of Barbara’s talk was on long or miser purses, which first appeared in
the late eighteenth century and remained popular throughout the nineteenth century.
These purses were mass produced as well as handmade and there are lots of examples in
museum collections, many of them decorated with beads. They came in all sorts of sizes;
we were shown a miniature one attached to Sarah Thrifty, an 1830 pedlar doll, while the
largest purse was 60cm long. The most common size was around 15cm and the yarn
most frequently used was silk. The purses were often square in shape at one end and
round at the other and there has been much discussion as to why this should be.
Barbara showed us an image of a replica miser purse, which she had commissioned Ruth
Gilbert to make from an 1842 pattern, in order to understand how the purse was carried
and how the two rings or sliders were used to close the purse. She noted that the purse
was flimsy, easily snagged and fiddly to open. The miser name probably derives from the
long amount of time it took to access your money from one of these purses!
The talk was illustrated by paintings of purses in use; by copies of the printed patterns
that appeared in works such as Mrs Hope’s The Knitter’s Casket of 1847 and Mrs
Gaugain’s Miniature Knitting, Netting, and Crochet Book; and by photographs of original
purses from Monste Stanley’s collection. Quotes from sources such as nineteenth century
literature as well as the proceedings of the Old Bailey revealed Barbara’s extensive
research into the use of these commonplace objects. She described how the purses could
be used by both men and women and were often given as tokens of love and affection.
Surviving purses demonstrate how often they contained not simply money, but good luck
charms, small items of jewellery, and in the case of a purse in the National Army Museum
belonging to someone who died at Waterloo, coins with dates relevant to the owner.
Possibly the most expensive miser purse was sold in 2002 for £240,000; it was the one
that Nelson supposedly had with him at his death on HMS Victory in 1805.
Winding up
Barbara concluded by giving us some useful websites to visit to find out more:
http://www.soton.ac.uk/intheloop/ - For information on the University of Southampton’s
knitting collections, including that of Montse Stanley
http://www.tassenmuseum.nl/ - The Amsterdam Museum of Bags and Purses
To which, I would like to add http://www.knittinghistory.co.uk/index.html - The Knitting
History Forum, which has its origins in the group Montse Stanley founded in the 1990s.
Page 12 WECS Wardrobe Autumn 2010
WECS Wardrobe Spring 2011 Page 11
Comfort and Itch: A case of Old Knits
Speaker: Rosemary Hawthorne
Report by Elaine Uttley
Any thoughts of a quiet snooze after lunch were swiftly halted by Rosemary’s
highly entertaining romp through the history of knitted garments. A truly theatrical
performance complete with glamorous assistant in a beautiful red jersey suit by Jean
Muir (30p at a jumble sale!) and a bottomless Mary Poppins style suitcase of historical
knits, this presentation had us in stitches from the start.
Rosemary Hawthorne and above
left, a couple of her ‘Mary Poppins’
suitcases with ‘Ella’ dressed in
twinset and pearls, and right:
Rosemary and charming assistant
with a washing line of stockings - in
chronological order!
William Lee, also known as ‘the knitting vicar’
was an English inventor who devised the first
stocking frame knitting machine in 1589. The
principle of its operation still remains in use
today. Lee was refused a patent by Queen
Elizabeth I because of her concern for the
security of her kingdom’s many hand knitters,
but later moved to France and began stocking
manufacture in Rouen. After his death
in 1614, Lee’s brother, James returned to
England and successfully established knitting
centres in London and Nottingham. Rosemary
produced a wonderful washing line of all
types and styles of stockings through the ages
including a rather beautiful example from the
1920s with a ballet slipper print. Such was the
jovial mood that WECS Chairman, Jean Scott
rolled up a trouser leg and treated us all to a
glimpse of her fashionable patterned tights!
Rosemary lived up to her nickname as “the
knicker lady” and spoke of the trend in the
late 19th century for Rational underwear,
advocated by Gustav Jaeger, a German
naturalist and hygienist. The system of
clothing associated with Jaeger’s name
promoted the benefits of wearing rough
fabrics such as wool close to the skin and
objected to the use of any kind of plant fibre.
Lewis Tomalin, a mill owner translated and
published Jaeger’s teachings in England and in
1884, he opened a clothing store in London,
named Dr Jaeger’s Sanitary Woollen System.
This later developed into the Jaeger clothing
brand we know today. A feast for the eyes
included a Jaeger pure knitted wool petticoat
with lace hem and a woolly spencer. But
the biggest cheer was for a pair of Rational
bloomers with a trap door opening at the
back, quite a stark contrast from the frivolity
of the 1890s “sensations”.
Another 19th century development in the
history of knitwear was the cardigan. This
knitted button-up garment was named after
its inventor, James Brudenell, 7th Earl of
Cardigan, a British military commander who
wore a tough knitted vest with sleeves under
his uniform during the freezing temperatures
of the Crimean War. Brudenell’s contribution
to fashion history has perhaps made up for
his leadership of the disastrous charge of the
Light Brigade and as with many aristocratic
clothing inventions, “Cardigan” vest-wearing
was quickly adopted by others, becoming
popular informal wear for men by the end of
the century.
Moving into the 20th Century, Rosemary
delighted the audience with Twilfit bras
and cami-knickers from the late 1920s
and Celanese knickers, the flesh coloured
working-class silk. Apparently, “girls will
please if they wear Celanese!” Members also
had the chance to reminisce about jersey
bathing costumes sagging and stretching after
a dip in the sea. The war years were illustrated
with Fair Isle tank tops, a knitted cover for a
ration book and garter stitch gloves. A wavy
patterned top and knitted knickers in two
colours were also produced from Rosemary’s
bottomless suitcase for all to see.
Brown school knickers with a pocket and
the Liberty bodice, that staple of pre-central
heating days, which had rubber buttons
and was worn over a vest, had everyone
comparing stories on their school days. Other
visual treats of knit from the 1950s included
knitted girdles and a colourful pink suit made
from Orlon, an acrylic fibre introduced by
American company DuPont in 1948, which
was intended to feel like real wool. The
1970s saw knitted garments at the height of
fashion, such as ponchos and waistcoats in
shades of mustard and Bovril and skinny rib
sweaters worn with flares and tank tops. And
we re-lived the Knitwear Revolution of the
1980s with its vast mohair cardigans, discoinfluenced knitwear and Shetland jumpers
made popular by Princess Diana.
For her grand finale and to demonstrate the
incredible design potential of knit, Rosemary
unveiled a knitted toilet roll cover doll! A
clever, captivating and light hearted look at
the history of knitwear through a case of old
knits. Bravo!
Page 12 WECS Wardrobe Spring 2011
The Sarah Dallas
Archive at the Fashion Museum
Speakers Elaine Uttley and Caroline Ness
Report by Karen Hilling
The day was rounded off with a
fascinating talk on the British fashion
knitwear designer, Sarah Dallas, highly
acclaimed in the 1980s for her bold
geometric designs, boxy shapes and
loose fitting garments.
An archive of Sarah Dallas’ work is
currently being compiled at the Fashion
Museum in Bath, comprising of around
8,000 items including designs and patterns,
working drawings, press books, invoices
and brochures as well as yarn, knitted
samples and garments. These date from
Dallas’ college collection of 1976 to her
design work of 1989 and feature freelance
designs for Next and Rowan Yarns as well
as her own ‘Sarah Dallas’ label.
The speakers, Elaine Uttley and Caroline
Ness, have both been involved in
researching the collection as part of their
roles as Collections Assistants at the
Fashion Museum and recently presented
a paper at the ‘In the Loop 2’ knitting
conference held at the Shetland Museum
and Archives. They explained that the
five day conference attracted a mix
of academics, museum professionals,
designers, artists and dedicated enthusiasts
and lectures covered topics such as the
anonymous and invisible Shetland women
knitters; artwork using the medium of knit
such as the UFO or Unfinished Knitted
Object project in which unfinished pieces
of knitting were finished by artists in
Left to right: Caroline Ness, Sarah Dallas and Elaine Uttley
unconventional ways; the cultural heritage
of knitting in Norway, India and Peru; and
knitting in twentieth century advertising
and popular culture.
Elaine and Caroline noted how knitwear
has often been overlooked or pigeonholed as solely a ‘craft based’ or domestic
activity rather than high fashion, but Sarah
Dallas’ striking designs helped to break
this stereotype. The designer captured
the mood of the time in her designs,
initially with ‘New Romantic’ styles using
frills and ribbons and later with big and
loose garments inspired by the ‘Poverty
Chic’ aesthetic showcased by avantgarde Japanese designers Kawakubo and
Yamamoto and contemporary Fair Isle
designs influenced by the 1980’s trend for
The Sarah Dallas label was sold through
high end retailers such as Harvey Nichols
and Way In at Harrods and exported to
Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue
in the USA. Dallas was recognised with a
British Design Award for Excellence in 1987
and a European Design Award in 1988 for
collections that included her trademark
design of contrasting colour stripes on the
WECS Wardrobe Spring 2011 Page 13
While in the Shetlands, Caroline took
a chance to photograph this knitted
lace. So fine it should fit through your
wedding ring.
thinking lace
n The Calais Lace Museum
Cité Internationale de la Dentelle et
de la Mode de Calais
135 Quai du Commerce
62100 Calais
Tel: 00 33 (0)321 00 42 30
A top tip for any members with a
few hours to spare while waiting for
the ferry is the Cité Internationale de
la Dentelle et de la Mode de Calais
otherwise known as the Calais Lace
Recommended by WECS’ member
Caroline Bartlett who found herself
with a free afternoon on the way back
from a lace making trip to Bruges last
November, the museum is situated
only 5-10 minutes from the ferry port
in Calais.
backs of garments and different patterns
on the sleeves. Sarah Dallas established
the Fashion Knitwear course at the Royal
College of Art in 1989 and has been a
Senior Tutor in the School of Fashion and
Textiles there since 1992. She continues to
design for Rowan Yarns and has published
three very successful books, including the
popular Vintage Knits in 2002.
The Sarah Dallas Archive at the Fashion
Museum provides many possibilities for
research and throughout their talk, Elaine
and Caroline demonstrated the links
they had begun to make between the
garments, designs and press articles. This is
helping to date the Sarah Dallas garments
in the Fashion Museum collection, identify
the retail cost of some of the designs and
place Dallas’ body of work in the wider
context of 1980’s fashion. The Archive
is accessible to the public for research at
the Fashion Museum Study Facilities and
Elaine and Caroline invited WECS members
to come along and discover this rich and
varied resource for themselves.
Left to right: Black and white ensemble from
sketch to swatch to finished items.
Pencil sketch and knitted colour sample.
Cardigan, waistcoat and sock set.
Lurex boob tube and sleeves.
Images courtesy of The Fashion Museum,
Bath and North East Somerset Council
Aptly located in a former 19th
century lace factory, the museum
is dedicated to the glory of Calais’
lace-making heritage. Featuring
displays of intricately crafted lace
and demonstrations of lace-making
machinery as well as housing a
collection of fashionable dress
spanning several centuries, a visit to
this museum could round off your
next holiday to France quite nicely!
Some of
the knits
on display
on the
Page 14 WECS Wardrobe Spring 2011
Hand Made Tales: Women and Domestic Crafts
Until 20 April 2011
n The Women’s Library, London Metropolitan University, Old Castle Street,
London, E1 7NT 020 7320 2222 www.thewomenslibrary.ac.uk
Report by Elaine Uttley
Cupcakes, knit and natter groups
and ‘grow your own’; each is back in
fashion. But why bother? Why make
things when to buy is usually cheaper
and less time-consuming? A fascinating
exhibition at The Women’s Library, a
unique cultural centre incorporating
a reading room, archive and museum
collection and housed on the site of
one of the oldest wash houses in
East London provides an insight into
the crafts practised by women over
the past 170 years and explores the
changing motivations behind making
objects for family and home.
Tucked away in Tower Hamlets
and in the shadow of the
Gherkin that dominates the City
skyline, The Women’s Library
exists to document and explore
women’s lives in Britain, in the
past, present and future. Hand
Made Tales is a response to
the resurgence of interest in
home crafts witnessed in the
last decade and questions
why women have historically
practised domestic crafts, how
craft skills are learned and
passed on and what underpins some
women’s desire to create domestic objects.
The first section explores the different
ways a housewife can be and the objects
range from a copy of the English Women’s
Domestic Magazine, a journal launched
by Samuel Beaton in 1852 and the first
publication aimed solely at the middle-class
housewife as a ‘cheap serial combining
practical utility, instruction and amusement’
to Nigella Lawson’s 2000 book ‘How To Be
A Domestic Goddess’ considered by many
to have kick started the contemporary
renaissance in domesticity. Also on show is
a hand knitted jumper from the 1980s. The
maker’s son recalls how his mother saw all
domestic tasks as meditation, ‘she never
sat down. She was always knitting and
Visitors then turn a corner and are greeted
by a fabulous display of costume that
challenges the view that work produced
YSL et le Maroc
Exhibition at the Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech
Report by Jeanne Evans
On a recent holiday to Marrakech I was lucky enough to visit this
wonderful exhibition at the Jardin Majorelle.
I had seen the posters on arrival at the airport, but had not been prepared
for an exhibition of sixty original Yves Saint Laurent garments, all
inspired by the time he lived in North Africa.
The late couturier came to Marrakech in 1966 and instantly fell in love
with the city and made it his home. He bought the house and sub-tropical
garden of the Orientalist French painter, Jaques Majorelle (1886 – 1962)
which had been established in the 1920s, but had fallen into neglect. Yves
Saint Laurent restored them, using all the vibrant colours typical of the
region, especially the cobalt blue for which it is renowned. The house and
garden are now one of the most famous and visited attractions in Marrakech.
Yves Saint Laurent was hugely influenced by the exotic colours and people of North
Africa, reinventing traditional Moroccan dress such as the jellaba, jabador, burnous and
tarbouch. He said “the city taught me colour” and went on to create new styles and
silhouettes, worn by the most stylish women of the 1960s.
The exhibition, held from 27 November 2010 to 18 March 2011,
was curated by Pierre Berge, lifelong partner of Yves Saint Laurent.
It included such iconic items as the first safari jacket (1986) and
stunning ethnic inspired costumes in iridescent colours, together
with vintage photographs and original sketches.
Of course, photography was not allowed and sadly there was no
illustrated catalogue for purchase – so it will just have to remain a
fabulous memory!
Left: Red faille cape with bougainvillia embroidery over buttercup chiffon
dress, 1989. Above: Bambara ensemble, top and skirt embroidered with
natural rafia and wooden beads, 1967.
Right: 1925 Pearly
Queen costume
by Mrs Herbert
Above: the
dressing gown/
evening coat
for Mrs Plant’s
End of article:
1947 bandeau top
by women in the home is amateur, poorly
made and an overblown Blue Peter project.
Objects such as a handmade lace and
linen chemisette from 1849 and made
for a trousseau, beautifully embroidered
tie-on pockets and a hand woven linen
dress from 1917 attest to the great skills
and knowledge of the non-professional
craftsperson. There is a very stylish viscose
coat dress, ca. 1945 on loan from the
Museum of London as well as a crochet
blouse, ca. 1953 from the Fashion Museum
collection that both exude homemade
As the name suggests, the thread running
through Hand Made Tales is the personal
stories behind the objects on show. There
is a hand sewn intricate button design,
ca. 1925 worn by the Pearly Queen of
Shoreditch, Mrs Lyons until 1977 and a
patchwork silk coat from 1948 by Ethel
Mary Plant that was originally intended as a
dressing gown for her daughter who chose
instead to wear it as an evening coat.
My favourite piece was the fantastic
swimsuit with a bandeau top made by
husband and wife, Veronica and Robert
Bailey, in 1947. In what must have been a
very progressive partnership at the time,
she cut the pattern and, because she
couldn’t sew, he stitched it together on a
Singer treadle sewing machine. Veronica
was photographed wearing the swimsuit
on their first holiday at Sunny Cove,
Salcombe after the war, an image which
together with the original Bestway pattern
is also on display.
The desire to learn a craft or to advance
already established skills has been met with
a plethora of information and advice and
a section on knowledge and skills tells of
how informal methods of self-tuition are
often supplemented by formal instruction
through organisations such as the WI and
WECS Wardrobe Spring 2011 Page 15
Imperial Chinese Robes from the Forbidden City
n Victoria and Albert Museum
Report by Vivien Isbister
WECS member Vivien Isbister visited the V&A Museum in January to see this
stunning exhibition of Imperial Chinese robes, on show in Europe for the very first time.
The exhibition covers three
centuries of historic royal robes
worn by the Emperors and
Empresses of the last ruling
dynasty of China.
Ten successive Emperors of the Qing
dynasty (1644-1911) resided in The
Forbidden City in Beijing, although I
learned that originally they were a nomadic
people from Manchuria in north-east
China. Imperial rule ended in 1911 and the
clothes and accessories of past Emperors
and Empresses were revealed to have been
carefully preserved in the palace wardrobe
for over two hundred years. Worn for
grand state functions as well as daily
activities, they tell the story of a vanished
court life.
Elaborate and exquisite robes, shoes,
headwear and a few children’s clothes
were among the beautiful historic
garments and accessories on display.
Many of the sumptuous silk embroidered
ceremonial robes were as good as new
with the colours still vibrant. Others
without embellishment had beautiful
patterns interwoven in the silk fabric with
the swastika symbol prominent in many of
the designs, this representing longevity.
There were five categories of formal wear
in Imperial dress: official; festive; regular;
travelling; and military. And rules existed
with regard to the colour of robe worn
at the various ceremonies. Robes were
decorated with flora and fauna, with
birds, butterflies, dragons and snakes
featuring most often. Some of the robes
were trimmed with braid or contrasting silk
fabric. Fur, often sable was also used as a
trimming as well as in a whole garment.
Exhibited in all its glory was one full length
fur robe plus some fur riding jackets with
‘fur print’ insertions.
Headwear was also skilfully made.
Examples on show included a brightly
coloured embroidered skull cap and an
Empress’s festive headdress decorated with
bird feathers, gold and beads including
semi precious stones. Qing women did
not bind their feet so the shoes were
of normal size. They looked like ballet
pumps, although beautifully decorated
with embroidery. The wedged soles varied
in height and one pair was described as
‘Flower Pot Shoes’, owing to the shoes’
height. Women must have had quite an
unattractive gait when walking! Men’s
boots made of leather also looked very
uncomfortable to wear.
All of the robes were full length, with slits
evening classes. A wonderful scene of
sewing machines in drawers customised
into display cases highlights how many
of us attach a value to our favourite tools
that goes beyond money. Objects such as
sewing equipment, food mixers and cake
tins illustrate how tools become familiar
and trusted items through which the
proficiency and expertise of their handlers
can be demonstrated. The heart of the
exhibition shines through as personal
stories emerge of equipment such as
All images are from V&A Publishing
Above: Emperor’s Winter Court Robe, 1662 –
1722. Satin with woven pattern and brown sable
Right, from top: Empress Informal Robe, 1875
– 1908. Satin embroidered pattern of flowers &
Flower Pot Shoes, 1875 - 1908
Empress Festive Headdress, 1875 – 1908. Rattan
strips, silk netting, kingfisher feather, pearls, gold
& semi precious stones.
at the side seams for ease of movement.
Some fastened down the centre front
vertically, others horizontally, depending on
whether it was a festive or a court robe. All
had long sleeves and several had distinctive
cuffs in the shape of a horse’s hoof, part
of the Qing Manchu heritage. The style of
the garments changed little until the 19th
century when influences from Europe saw
the narrowing of the robe and the inclusion
of a Mandarin style collar appearing on
some garments. It became popular for men
and women to wear a type of riding jacket,
although not necessarily for horse riding,
which later evolved into a waistcoat made
with or without a collar.
The Imperial Household Department
managed production of clothing for the
Imperial family. Exquisite silk fabrics and
trimmings, woven, regardless of cost, were
made by the Imperial Manufactories in
southern China where the weaving mills
were situated. The completed textiles were
then sent to be made up into garments in
specialised workshops within the Forbidden
City complex. Embroidered garments could
knitting needles, sewing boxes and button
jars passed down as items inherited from
relatives forming connections to making
across generations.
Hand Made Tales showcases a range of
domestic crafts including quilting, flowerarranging, weaving, needlework, stitch
craft, cake decorating and sugar craft
and argues that the domestic sphere does
indeed have artistic, personal and cultural
value. This exhibition offers an amazing
snapshot of making in the home and has
take about three years to complete. During
the late 19th century, the mechanised loom
reached China and western fabrics were
welcomed as a novelty.
For those members who did not have
the opportunity to see this extraordinary
display of Imperial style and craftsmanship,
I hope I have given you an insight into the
wardrobe of past Emperors and Empresses
and highlighted a collection overflowing
with examples of the exquisite needlework
skills that many of us do not possess.
Images are taken from
Imperial Chinese Robes from the
Forbidden City the book which
accompanied the exhibition,
edited by Ming Wilson with
the Palace Museum, Beijing.
V&A Publishing
ISBN 978-1-851-77620-7
a historical bite that leaves visitors with
a desire to understand and uncover the
stories behind their own home made crafts
and creations.
Page 16 WECS Wardrobe Spring 2011
continued from page six
The Fair promises a
fantastic range of antique
dress and textiles from
around the world, 17th century to 1970s.
Pre-1950s rugs and good quality vintage
dress, accessories, ephemera, books and
advice on conservation.
Admission £6, concs £4. Profits from the
London and Manchester fairs go towards
the Textile
Last year
they gave
awards of
when 1,100
visited the
Costume and Textile
Society of Wales
2011 programme
Meetings are usually held at St Fagans.
11 June
Michelle Griffiths: Lumps
and bumps – a Shibori
9 July
Trip to Abergavenny to
view Tapestry and visit the
24 September Andy Burke: Historic
To be confirmed
19 November Sian Price: Welsh National
Jane Pritchard V&A: The
Ballet Russe
For further information about the Society
visit the website:
Caroline Vincent [email protected]
or phone 02920 554462
New Home for the Textile
Conservation Centre at
the University of Glasgow
Report by Caroline Ness
Many WECS members will recall the
disappointing closure of the Textile
Conservation Centre at Winchester by
the University of Southampton in 2009.
However, February 9th 2011 was marked
with celebrations as the TCC re-opened in
a new home at the University of Glasgow.
Now known as the Centre for Textile
Conservation and Technical Art History, the
facility was officially opened by HRH The
Princess Royal, a long time supporter of
WECS Book reviews
All items in WECS Book Review are the author’s opinion and published in good faith.
Forties Fashion: From Siren Suits to the New Look
Jonathan Walford
Published by Thames and Hudson, £16.95
ISBN 9780500288979
Review by Deirdre McSharry, former magazine editor
In 1940, a young widow from London with young children took the night ferry
to Dublin hoping to escape the bombs, get a job and bring up her kids in their
native land. She was dressed in her best black suit, high heels and a ‘witty’ hat.
You could spot the bright lipstick and thick mascara through her veil. Her scent
was a mixture of London smog and Chanel No. 5. I was a small girl and I remember
vividly the silver barrage balloons and my mother’s brave face. She was just one of
myriads of women showing defiance with a display of Wartime Chic. Leafing through
the 250 photographs in Forties Fashion: From Siren Suits to the New Look - a stunning
compendium of the clothes of that era by fashion historian, Jonathan Walford - the style,
the dash, the very feel of the stuff that women wore in those turbulent wartimes comes
flooding back.
Featured in this definitive guide to fashion in the 1940s is the flotilla of smiling women on
bikes in occupied Paris with hair tied up in print scarves and veiling; a Schiaparelli suit with
a built-in army-style sling bag; hats decorated with army badges or V for Victory glitter
brooches; Carmen Miranda style turbans tumbling with flowers or fruit; or practical scarf
hats promoted for wear working in munitions factories. There are red, white and blue
wedge shoes with Cross of Lorraine from the Liberation of 1944. And cosy zip up jump
suits, hooded coats and Siren suits inspired by Winston Churchill’s practical ensembles for
wear in bomb shelters and un-heated homes.
Above all, Walford recounts the couture houses’ fight back in Paris and London in
showing wartime collections, designed to lift morale and, in occupied Paris, to defy
Vichy and the German administration. The fact that wives and mistresses of high ranking
German officers or Black Marketeers were also buying had to be swallowed since the
feeling was that the continuation of French couture was a striking way of defying
the Occupation. This was the view that powerful American editors and buyers also
took. In 1944 Carmel Snow, editor of Harper’s Bazaar, returned to Paris to cover the
collections. She noted how Parisian women in soaring head-dresses click-clacked across
the pavements in wooden-soled shoes and used enormous collars, ceramic buttons and
fanciful patches to disguise worn-out clothes: “Where hope existed so did fashion”.
British couturier, Hardy Amies recalled in 1944 that the look of broad shoulders, small
waists and skirts both short and full - with bare legs - was “flamboyant, sexy and
provocative”. It was also practical and allowed the imagination to rip in varying the timeworn theme of Make Do and Mend. Just before the Second World War ended in 1945,
American Vogue picked up the current flair in Paris and London for recycling clashing
fabrics - shawls, peasant prints, quilts - in floating skirts and tops. And above all, in witty
hats, as illustrated by a surreal Paris cityscape made of cardboard, atop a light-as-air
ribbon hat on page 164. Move over Marie Antoinette!
My mother, like most in those hard times, made all my clothes, re- using flannel
and linens from her brother’s old trousers and shirts. Her speciality was Hungarian
embroidery in brilliant silks. Were clothes ever more treasured? And then from the
dashing shoulder pads, cinched waists and twirling skirts of brave wartime fashion – all
born from the sewing baskets of the make-do makers - came the Brave New World of
Christian Dior’s mould-breaking 1947 collection, The New Look.
Forties Fashion details how during this period of immense conflict and wartime shortage,
fashion still managed to express ideals of beauty, femininity and luxury and the pursuit of
style was considered a patriotic duty. Perhaps we should borrow some ideas and the spirit
of those times for our own less-brave fashion world today....
textile conservation in the UK and Patron of
the TCC Foundation for over fifteen years.
After the Textile Conservation Centre
was closed at Winchester in 2009, Nell
Hoare worked with the TCC Foundation
in running a highly successful campaign
to raise funds for the new teaching
and research facility, which now has a
dedicated and fully refurbished space
at Glasgow. This is the only resource of
its kind in the UK and the first time that
conservation training has been undertaken
in Scotland. Combined with the University
of Glasgow’s recent developments in
technical art history, the new centre will
have national and international impact. The
first cohort of students began their two
year MPhil postgraduate course in Textile
Conservation in September 2010 and later
this year, a new one-year postgraduate
MLitt in Dress and Textile Histories will be
Some of you may already be aware that
I have begun my PhD research in dress
history with the new Centre for Textile
Conservation & Technical Art History. My
research is based upon the archive of a
couturier well known in the 1950s called
Jo Mattli, which is held at the Fashion
Museum in Bath.
This is an exciting time for textile
conservation and dress history and I am
immensely proud to be part of the newly
launched Centre.
WECS Wardrobe Spring 2011 Page 17
The New Kimono
From Vintage Style To Everyday Chic
Edited by Nanao Magazine
Translated by Leeyong Soo
List price: $24.95
ISBN10: 4-7700-3148-3
ISBN13: 978-4-7700-3148-3
128 pages, paperback
Review by Fiona Starkey
Due out in June this best-of-selection
of articles from Japanese contemporary
kimono magazine Nanao is filled with
inspirational photography and practical
hints for the kimono lover.
For years there has really only been one
practical hands-on kimono book for the
beginner: The Book of Kimono by Norio
Yamanaka. However, recent years have
seen a kimono boom amongst young
women in Japan who delight in kimono
as everyday wear and scour secondhand
kimono stores and their mothers’
wardrobes for vintage pieces to bring up
to date. Capitalising on this trend has been
Nanao magazine, established in 2004,
and one of Japan’s leading contemporary
kimono publications. Nanao is full of
stylish fashion spreads and tips for younger
women on how to dress, how to find
good but inexpensive pieces, and how
to customize, accessorize, and care for
traditional garments.
The New Kimono presents in book form
a selection of the best articles from
Nanao magazine, providing a wealth
of information to Western readers with
an interest in kimono. Articles include
interviews with young Japanese women
who treat kimono as everyday wear, advice
on how to coordinate fabrics and designs,
how to choose an obi, how to choose
footwear, how to choose underwear,
how to customize vintage kimono, and
fabulous vintage kimono fashion spreads.
An appendix provides clear step-by-step
guidelines on how to put on kimono,
kimono underwear, yukata, and obi. A
glossary of kimono terms, index, shop
guide, and price guide is also included.
Combining practical hints with inspirational
photography, this should appeal to anyone
with an interest in fashion, Japanese
popular culture, or textiles and design.
Knitting link!
Nicky Albrechtsen & Fola Solanke
Thames & Hudson
ISBN 978-0-500-51564-8
Hardback, 303 pages, 257 illustrations, 254 in colour
310mm X 255mm £35.00
Review by Jean Scott
How dull
you might
a piece
of fabric
around the
head or
neck and
yet, as the authors claim “it can
be a work of art as collectable
as a rare book or print”.
This beautiful volume, bound in a satin
fabric, decorated with a 1960s scarf print
by Richard Allen, is a good
starting point for anyone
with an interest in textiles
who would like to succumb
to the collecting bug, but
keep it manageable.
The authors, Nicky
Albrechsten and Fola Solanke
systematically map the story
of the scarf through the
various chapters entitled
The Styles of the Eras; Artists’
Scarves; Textile Designers; Great
Scarf Companies; The Designer
Scarf; Historic Scarves; The Travel
Scarf; Scarves and Advertising; and
Collectables, and in so doing they
show how scarves can document social
history, particularly the twentieth century.
As purely a functional accessory scarves
protect, but for artists, designers
and illustrators they become a blank
canvas for decoration, advertising and
commemoration. Albrechsten and Solanke
track the artistic styles from the late
nineteenth century to the 1990s, from Art
Nouveau through patriotic designs of the
war years to the fashion house logos of the
present day. Couture houses collaborated
with contemporary artists and textile
designers to promote their brands such as
Poiret with Raoul Duffy and Schiaparelli
with Jean Cocteau and Salvador Dali. At
One of our members has recommended this American magazine for those
interested in craft knitting.
www.interweave.com/piecework or Google Piecework knitting
The website intro says: PieceWork gives you a perspective on knitting and
all types of needlework that you won’t find anywhere else. Do you look
at a piece of clothing or a household textile and wonder how it was made?
Are you interested in connecting with needleworkers past and present through their
personal stories? Would you like to make your own heirloom-quality projects
from vintage patterns? Then, you need to take a look at PieceWork. It’s the
only magazine for those who adore historical knitting, embellished clothing,
stunning quilts, amazing needlework, and exquisite lacework—all made by
And they offer a glimpse: Belarusian Wrist Warmers to Knit, page 18 of the April issue!
Illustrations from the top
Sophia Loren wearing a vibrant
floral silk scarf, mid-1950s
The book itself in scarf bound
Mary Quant, cotton triangular
‘Propaganda’ Vivienne Westwood,
silk, 2005
Marilyn Monroe poses with a
patriotic scarf for a magazine shoot,
Jacqmar, silk, Coronation 1953
‘Le Chevauchée’, Raoul Dufy for
Bianchini-Férier, silk, 1920s,
reissued 1980s
street-fashion level Mary Quant used her
daisy symbol on triangular cotton scarves
whilst today, as recently as 2005, Vivienne
Westwood used printed scarves to show
her rebellion against conventional norms.
The middle of the twentieth century saw
the scarf as not just a fashion accessory,
but an essential part of social
etiquette and companies
evolved that specialised in
scarves. Vera Neuman, an
American designer, started
Printex. She signed her
scarves and had the foresight
to copyright them. In Britain,
Jacqmar became synonymous
with scarves, whilst Liberty
produced limited editions thus creating
a collectors’ market. The authors also
go on to show how scarves have been a
means of commemorating events such as
coronations, Olympic games and even the
first moon landing, as well as acting as
souvenirs of visits to exotic places.
All this is amply illustrated with 254
excellent colour illustrations, but
many have unidentifiable designers or
manufacturers, probably due to the low
esteem of this simple accessory. An easy
to read and clearly presented volume,
which concludes with a useful appendix
containing an A-Z of designers, couture
houses and scarf companies as well as a
guide to authenticating vintage scarves. It
also includes a guide to conservation and
storage together with a list of resources
from museums to vintage fairs and shops
to guide the enthusiastic researcher and
collector. Even if you do
not intend to become a
collector this is a beautiful
informative book to
browse at your leisure
and an ideal addition
to adorn the coffee
table of a twenty-first
century living room.
Page 18 WECS Wardrobe Spring 2011
Billed as the “ultimate” film and television costume collection, this absorbing array allowed
us to get up-close-and-personal with the garments, to inspect every last meticulous detail not of course with our hands - but with our eyes, and take as many photographs as we like
(without flash, naturally).
Spot the difference!
I was able to admire the sage green and
gold mesh overlay on the velvet bodice
of Cate Blanchett’s Elizabeth, designed
in 1998 by Alexandra Byrne as a dancing
dress for the coronation scene (see right).
The skirt was in a heavier silk/satin and
fixed on the back of the shoulder - though
difficult to see from the photograph - was
a coral velvet rosette lined with a lighter
coral silk, attached to drapery which swept
diagonally across the back of the dress
and ended at the right hip. There was also
meticulous embroidery on the lace under
Another highlight was Heath Ledger’s
Casanova outfit from 2005 (main image),
a beautifully cut frock coat in a slightly
lighter green silk than Cate Blanchett’s
dress, with an elaborately embroidered
waistcoat, and lace jabot and cuffs. We are
told that the late actor enjoyed wearing
this outfit.
I was so absorbed in my furious notetaking and admiration of the displays that
further along I leaned forward to examine
the detail on a 1780s printed cotton
dress and banged my head on the
glass display case, forgetting I was
looking at a real example! No
damage done - to the display
case, thankfully - but it brought
home how the garments from
the silver screen sat beautifully
alongside the “real” exhibits.
The final colours on this
dress had been added by
hand in a technique known as
“pencilling”, which was done by
a large number of women, each
using a fine brush to “pencil” on
Also from the archives was an 1830s
poke bonnet, which we saw in
“before” pictures, before it had been
painstakingly cleaned using a cotton
wool swab. It certainly scrubbed up
well! The bonnet (above right) was
made from leghorn straw, named
after the small town in Tuscany
which, we are told, made the finest
pleated straw. The conservation display
also warned us of the old enemies
of costume; especially light, humidity,
insects and of course, general wear and
tear. If you’re interested, more information
on conservation can be found on an
excellent website, www.ashmolean.org/
It was the late great Christian Dior who
proclaimed: “Without foundations there
is no fashion”. In film and theatre,
foundations are there to help the actors
get into character, making them stand,
walk and perhaps even feel different. We
Heroes and Heroines: Fashions
From Film
Leeds City Museum, Millenium Square,
Report: Carol Bell
Photos: Courtesy of Cosprop
WECS Wardrobe Spring 2011 Page 19
saw fine examples of undergarments,
including stays from 1780-90 (below left),
featuring whalebone or baleen boning, an
1830s corset, 1880s bustle, and a modern
but very authentic looking corset designed
by Jenny Beavan for Sienna Miller to wear
in Casanova.
Also from the Beavan and Bright stable was
Judi Dench’s 1840s dress from Cranford,
in a simple style because that was exactly
what the author Elizabeth Gaskell had
There would be no show, however, without
Mr Darcy, and there were some of Dinah
Collin’s pieces from the 1995 BBC TV series
Pride and Prejudice,
including a banyan
coat, and a dark
linen coat with
grey serge
waistcoat, beige
britches and
brown boots.
Colin Firth
had a lot of
input and
wanted his
character to
wear darker
shades, even
though the book
did not demand
Going back in
time, one of the
highlights of the
exhibition came
from Leeds’ own
collection, a rare
fragment of a dress
from the reign
of Elizabeth I, a
dark piece of silk
with fine silver
threading. There are
also fabric samples
in Ackerman’s Repository of
the Arts, a fascinating guide
published in 1809 to 1829 by
Rudolph Ackermann, owner of
a repository in the Strand which
was frequented by the fashionable
upper classes. His monthly
magazine included articles and
illustrations, particularly on fashion,
social and literary news and had
a major impact on contemporary
clothing styles.
But that’s another story…
Curator Natalie Raw cleverly placed
some older pieces in amongst Cosprop
creations and sometimes there was
very little difference! From top left: Cate Blanchet’s
Elizabethan dancing dress,
1830s poke bonnet
(original), 1780 stays
(original), Heath
Ledger’s Casanova pale
sage outfit.
This page: Pirates of the
Caribbean and Nicole Kidman’s
burgundy dress from Portrait of a Lady.
The bonnet and late C18th stays are courtesy
of Leeds Museums and Galleries; all others
courtesy of Cosprop.
Granny’s Day Off
A new column by WECS Secretary, Ann Brown
When in London town babysitting grandson Jett, Ann always manages to
fit in a visit to the latest fashion exhibition and report back for WECS members. In this issue, Ann tells of her trip to see Drawing Fashion at the
Design Museum.
On a very wet windy day in November, I battled my way across Tower Bridge
avoiding the abandoned umbrellas, to the Design Museum south of the river.
Above: Antonio illustration
from 1967. Right and
below: Georges Lepape
illustrations from postcards
produced by The Design
Museum from the
In the two story building overlooking the Thames,
an entire floor was devoted to their latest
exhibition Drawing Fashion, guest curated by
legendary fashion writer Colin
The exhibition
showcased a unique
collection of some of
the most remarkable
fashion illustrations
from the 20th and
21st centuries split
into six periods and
begins with film clips
from each of the
periods covered in the
exhibition. I travelled in
time through drawings
from 1900 right into
the future. Evocative
illustrations by Georges
Lepape for the covers
of Vogue and Harpers
Bazaar in the section
covering the first part
of the last century had
great appeal as well
as Erté, but perhaps
without the glitter!
As you move on
through the decades,
original drawings are
on show from names
such as Gruau in the 1940s and 1950s, Antonio
throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and
current artists Mats Gustafson, Morinerie and
Francois Berthoud. The artists cover collections
from famous fashion houses such as Chanel, Dior,
Comme des Garcons and Poiret as well as Victor
& Rolf, Lacroix and McQueen.
As photography has taken over from drawn
illustrations in magazines there appear to
be fewer artists specialising in fashion
drawings. These do feature occasionally
in the back pages of magazines such as
Vogue, but are more likely to appear as
advertisements or on the walls of our
homes and galleries.
Sadly this exhibition is now finished, but it was a
joy to see the original drawings, which are now
mostly used for greeting cards or reproduced in books.
Page 20 WECS Wardrobe Spring 2011
From: caroline.jenkinson@
Subject: Help required
Extract from email:
I am researching Ladies Companions for
my dissertation at Brighton University in
Fashion and Dress History.
I am pursuing own my ladies at Brighton
but thought that some one with local
knowledge of Bath would be able to point
me in the right direction... a few words with
the right person could help enormously.
I’m looking for evidence of women in Bath
who had a companion. I am trying to define
the companion’s role and the working title
is Lady Companions, Invisible women.
If anything comes to mind I would really
appreciate it.
Many thanks, Caroline.
Bath Spa University is offering a
Postgraduate PGCert/PGDip/MA:
Fashion Design
Full or part time,
Investigating Fashion
Design is concerned
with the study,
analysis and written
critique of historical
and contemporary
dress in a museum
environment. The
course aims to enable
students to work independently with
the Fashion Museum’s internationally
renowned collection in Bath, whilst
attending supporting lecture and seminar
Bath Spa University, Newton St Loe, Bath
01225 875875
[email protected]
[olivia dell]
[world textiles]
[folk art]
...vibrant hand-woven
textiles traditionally plantdyed next to sophisticated
ikat coats, striped cottons,
embroidered ethnic pieces...
The studio, which will
have open days and run
textile courses in 2011, has
relocated to Silva, Southfield
Road, Woodchester, Stroud
GL5 5PA Tel: 01453 873653.
Memories of a Flapper, anyone?
The BBC’s new Reel History of Britain (to
be hosted by Melvyn Bragg) is looking for
someone who might have memories of 1920s
fashion - flapper fashion in particular.
Have you a grandmother, mum, aunt or
friend who might have memories and would
be willing to participate? Please contact
Jean Scott or Elaine Uttley at the Fashion
Museum, Bath who will put you in touch
with the coordinator at the BBC.
They will be very lucky to find anyone who
actually experienced the period but there may
be someone who has memories they would
find interesting.
For Sale:
Bond Elite Knitting Machine
(The fast way to knit).
Unused, complete with instruction video and
booklet. Patterns also included.
Only £50.00 (including £10.00 to WECS).
Contact Ann Brown 01761 232227
Braiding days at Aldbourne
If you’re interested in learning how to make
braids, or improving your skills, contact
[email protected] for
information and directions. Classes will be
held 5 June, 7 August, 2 October and 4
December 2011.
Summer short courses
Arts University College, Bournemouth is
offering short courses on Period costume and
classic English tailoring. See website.
manufactured a line of garment bags, furniture
covers and shoe bags from percale that has no
dyes, bleach or chemicals. In designing these
products she had the help and guidance of The
Textile Conservation Workshop as she wanted
to create products that museum conservators
could use and that would appeal to costume
collectors as well as individuals who want to
preserve and protect their best possessions.
A Miscellany of
Womens magazines
Needlework and lace
Textiles and design
Black Cat
Meadow Cottage
High Road, Wortwell,
Harleston IP20 0EN
Telephone / Fax
01986 788826
24 Hour answering
Jean Scott, 24 Pound Lane, Semington,
Wilts BA14 6LP 01380 870964
[email protected]
Ann Brown, 162 Stockhill Road,
Chilcompton, Radstock BA3 4JQ
01761 232227
[email protected]
Sarah Bartlett, 4 Cotley Place, Heytesbury,
Warminster, BA12 0HT
01985 840624
[email protected]
Membership Secretary
Linda Watts, 3 Woodlands Edge,
West Ashton Road, Trowbridge, Wiltshire,
BA14 7BE
01225 763920
[email protected]
Wardrobe editor
Elaine Uttley, Second Floor Flat, 7 Portland
Place, Bath, BA1 2RU
01225 443676
[email protected]
Fiona Starkey, The Shambles, Sham Castle
Lane, Bath BA2 6JH
01225 445800
[email protected]
Co-opted members
Jill Hazell, 92 The Crescent, Henleaze,
Bristol, BS9 4RT
0117 9620809
[email protected]
Vivien Isbister, 48 Seend Cleeve, Melksham,
Wiltshire. SN12 6PY
[email protected]
If you’ve mislaid your booking
form, contact Sarah Bartlett for the
Coldharbour Mill/Killerton visit
Copy for the next newsletter to
Elaine Uttley by 25 June, please
WECS Wardrobe designed and produced by Bath Design Centre 01225 445800 [email protected]