Our Latest Visit to the V&A Museum

One of the high points of any trip to London is spending a little time visiting the V&A Museum and this past visit was no exception. What was a real stand-out for us this time was viewing some textiles and garments from South Asia. Here’s just a few examples:

This one is a chintz dating from the 18th Century which was essentially a glazed cotton print fabric that was originally made in India. This fabric was exported to England in quantity and it quickly caught on as a fashion fabric to the point where manufacturers in England was producing cheap knock-offs. The fabric was used to make this waistcoat from circa 1770-1775:

Waistcoat, c. 1770-1775; V&A Museum (IS.20-1976)

And here’s a close-up of one of the buttonholes:

This mantle/cape was also interesting:

Unfortunately, we were unable to find out more about it- there wasn’t any sort of card explaining it (or we might have just missed it). Here’s another interesting dress:

Unfortunately, all I could get was the side profile. Here are some other views I obtained from the V&A Museum website:

Gown, c. 1770s, reworked 1790s; V&A Museum (IS.3-1948)

Most of these fabrics were prints, although there was also a few that were embroidered such as this one:

And of course, we visited the regular costume collection… 🙂 In particular, the this Salvador Dali-inspired dress by Schiaparelli caught our eye:

And of course, we had to hit the bookstore:

This barely scratched the surface of what’s there at the V&A and we learn something new every time we go. For a little more, check out this post and this post.  If you’re in London, the V&A is definitely worth a visit. 🙂

In The UK- Part 3

Today we took a train trip out into the English countryside and met up with some friends and visited Waddeston Manor. Located close to Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, the house was built between 1874 and 1889 by the Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (1839–1898) as a weekend retreat for entertaining plus as a venue to house his art collection. The architectural style is a Neo-Renaissance (or Renaissance Revival style) and is quite elaborate and not the usual Victorian style that one normally sees in England.

To get an idea of the scale of the house, here’s an overhead view:

 Aerial view of Waddesdon from the north

And from the front:

The above images are borrowed from Wikipedia since my cell phone camera just wasn’t working right that day. And here’s mine:

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And now for a few interior views:

The Red Drawing Room:

 

Waddesdon Manor

Waddesdon Manor

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And there was quite an extensive collection of chinaware of all kinds…

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And then, unexpectedly, there were some Elizabethan era portraits by Nicholas Hilliard:

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And here are some close-up views of the portraiture. First, there Queen Elizabeth:

Sir Amias Paulet:

Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester:

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It was an interesting tour and the crowds weren’t too bad (it was a weekday). Style-wise, the house was mostly decorated in 18th Century style- Rothschild had acquired a large amount of furniture, decorate elements, paintings, et al., mostly from France a la William Randolph Hearst but with much better taste. What also amazing is that the Waddesdon Manor was much more than just a big house, it was a whole self-contained community complete with it’s own workshops and even a power plant- basically, the manor was one of the largest employers in the area and the work was steady even during the Depression of 1893.

One newly-reopened area of the manor were the wine cellars and they were amazing:

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And yes, they offer wine tastings on a periodic basis…. 🙂

For us, touring Waddesdon Manor was an amazing experience and it exposed us to a lot of things that we normally just see in pictures or in museums, devoid of context. The richness of colors were very inspiring and it reinforced our current leaning towards saturated colors and jewel tones- it’s such a contrast to Southern California. We’re still thinking about this marvelous place and we’ll be commenting on it in future posts.

After our visit, we retired to a local pub for dinner and then caught a late train for London…

(To be continued…)

 

In The UK- Part 5

After spending a long morning at Portobello Road Market, we decided to pay a visit to Kensington Palace, the childhood home of Queen Victoria.

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Located in Kensington Gardens in London, Kensington Palace has been a residence for British royalty since the 17th Century and as such was the principal residence for King William and Mary, Queen Anne, and Georges I & II. We arrived in mid-afternoon on a Saturday which, in retrospect, was probably not the wisest idea with the crowds. Summoning up our courage, we paid our admission and entered…

Kensington Palace

Warning- The admission fee is a tad on the high side…

Pushing our way past the crowds, we took a somewhat random approach to what we viewed, filling in where there weren’t people and then moving from display to display as crowds formed. The first area we looked at was in the oldest part of the palace:

London Kensington Palace Adam

The crowds were a bit large and constantly getting in the way so we weren’t able to get as many pictures as we would have wanted. However, this caught our eye:

 

London Kensington Palace Adam

Hmm…well, the color choice isn’t optimal but you can’t beat the fabric for durability…

There were a number of reproductions of period garments, in this case a 17th Century dress, that were made out of Tyvek and intended to be handled by the visitors. Tyvek? Wow, brilliant idea when you think about it- the same stuff that’s used for hazmat suits and mailing envelops. 🙂

Here were a couple of views that we were able to get on the fly:

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace

Now, THAT’S a bed!

Besides the older wing, there was also the wing that had been occupied by Queen Victoria prior to her ascension to the throne as well as a temporary exhibition of Lady Diana’s wardrobe. Both were pretty interesting but the crowds were intense and we were unable to get a good look.  Overall, it was an interesting visit BUT if you go here, be sure to go on a weekday morning to avoid the crowds.

Adam London Kensington Palace

Taking a long break after dodging tourists all day…

In The UK – Part 2

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After a short break, we decided to head east to Soho and check out a few of the fabric stores that we’d previous planned for. Our first stop was MacCulloch & Wallis. There was a variety of fabrics available mostly focused on cottons and silk, (although there was also a wool section) and while much wasn’t anything we couldn’t obtain here in LA, there were some stand-outs that caught our eye:

London Fabric

There were a number of cotton/silk brocades in a variety of colors as seen above. Here’s a sampling of what we bought:

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Adam London

Checking out the fabrics at MacCulloch & Wallis…

London Cloth House

Our next stop was the Cloth House. Although the store was small (everything is small in London, it seems… 🙂 ), it was packed with some interesting fabrics, primarily cottons and cotton/silk mixes (or so it seemed). We didn’t a lot that was useful but the few things we did find were exquisite but unfortunately, almost none of them were available in enough quantity for a dress length- apparently they stock most of their fabrics in 5 meter increments so if your timing is off, you’re out of luck (although they can restock on some fabrics). Here are a couple of cotton prints we walked away with…can you sense the “Liberty London” vibe here? 🙂

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Next, while we weren’t specifically looking for wool, we walked into Borovick Fabrics on a whim and walked out with this beautiful plaid:

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The nice think about this wool is that it’s a medium weight and it will work for Southern California- normally, there’s simply no real opportunities to wear wool, at least not like in the UK. We bought enough yardage for a complete sack suit and vest… 🙂 And then we decided to take a break at the local Cafe Nero before moving on….

(To be continued….)