In The UK – Part 1

London

After a somewhat uncomfortable 10 1/2-hour flight (that will teach us to ignore the advice on seatguru.com), we made it into Heathrow and were quickly whisked away to our hotel in Kensington. As luck would have it, we arrived at the tail-end of some warm weather with clear skies and zero possibility of rain. πŸ™‚ After some issues with the hotel room (it turns out that there is no air conditioning allowed in historic “listed buildings” above the ground floor, we got everything sorted out and we were ready to hit the town running.

The next morning, we decided to start out somewhat slow by heading over to the V&A Museum for a quick once-over. We were hoping to get into the Frida Kahlo exhibit but you need special tickets to get in and they were all sold out so we contented ourselves touring some of the regular galleries. Unfortunately, most of the better 19th Century costumes are in storage and there’s not a lot on display so it was a bit disappointing though not unexpected (we were hoping that they’d at least rotate a few items).

Although we’ve commented on this before, one of the best stand-outs was this dolman made in 1885 by Pingat:

V&A Museum Dolman Jacket Pingat 1885

Here are a some more views, courtesy of the V&A:

Pingat Dolman 1885

Pingat, Dolman/Jacket; V&A Museum (T.64-1976)

Pingat Dolman 1885

This bodice from 1895 also caught our eye:

V&A Museum Bodice 1895

Unfortunately, getting good pictures are is difficult when the items are behind glass but here are some better views, courtesy of the V&A:

Bodice 1895

Guiquin, L, Bodice, 1895; V&A Museum (T.271&A-1972)

Bodice 1895

Three-Quarter Front View

Bodice 1895

Close-up of upper sleeve.

Although it’s easy to miss because the bodice is behind glass, the silk fabric and trim are very pleasing and especially the silk brocade sleeve treatment. It’s very subtle but adds a depth both in texture and luster. It’s too bad that the skirt is not available for view- it would have made for a beautiful dress- the bodice is only a hint. πŸ™‚

Finally, we end with this fan from Ronot-Tutin that was created c. 1890-1900:

V&A Museum

Stay tuned as we head to Soho for some fabric shopping… πŸ™‚

A Trip To The V&A Museum, Part 2

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And now on to the high point of our visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum (besides the bookstore πŸ™‚ ). While there were a number of interesting garments, here are a few that caught our eye. First up is this excellent example of a Mid-Bustle Era princess line dress:

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This one is often cited as a good example of Mid-Bustle Era style. Here are some better pictures from the V&A website:

Day Dress Princess Line V&A 1870 - 1880

Day Dress, c. 1870 – 1880; V&A Museum (CIRC.606-1962)

Day Dress Princess Line V&A 1870 - 1880

Rear View

Here are some closer views:

Day Dress Princess Line V&A 1870 - 1880

Day Dress Princess Line V&A 1870 - 1880

One of the most striking features of this dress is the ruched ivory silk front along with the ruching and knife pleating along the rear hem. The net-covered blue Jacquard silk fabric provides an interesting color counterpoint that makes for a nicely unified design.

Next is this 1885 cotton print day dress:

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And here are a few more views:

Day Dress 1885

Day Dress, 1885; V&A Museum (T.7&A-1926)

Day Dress 1885

Side Profile

 

This dress is a good example of the Mid-1880s day dress and it captures the styles of the era quite nicely with a minimum of trim and detail.

Here’s some of the other interesting garments that were on display:

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Bustle Pad

This bustle pad is often seen in Pinterest and in various costume books. It’s functional simplicity at its best.

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Bodice Interior

This bodice interior gives a nice view “under the hood” of a late Victorian bodice. All the seams are finished either by pinking or whip stitched along the edges. Boning has been carefully installed as well as a petersham belt for added stability and shape.

And outside of the late 19th Century were these items of interest:

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Above is an Mid 19th Century French pannier dress. Although it’s not obvious from the picture, this dress was roughly 8 feet wide or so and built for a very small person, say in the 5’3″ to 5’5″ range.

Next is this ribbon corset from circa 1895:

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Finally, there’s the iconic “wine glass dress” designed by Elsa Schiaparelli:

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Evening coat Place of origin: London (made) Date:1937 (made) Materials and Techniques: Silk jersey, with gold thread and silk embroidery and applied decoration in silk

Is it a wine glass or two people? You be the judge. πŸ™‚

Overall, it was a very illuminating visit and it was nice to see some of the garments that I have only seen in books up to this point. In the next post, we’ll tie everything together with some commentary so stay tuned…. πŸ™‚

To be continued…

A Trip To The V&A Museum, Part 1

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First up on our list of “must sees” is the Victoria and Albert Museum. After a long restful sleep and pausing for breakfast, we sallied forth up Cromwell Road towards the museum. It was a relatively short walk and we got an opportunity to take in the sights and sounds of early morning London on a weekday. Compared to Los Angeles, there was heavy foot traffic and it seems that everyone was on their way somewhere (it also seems that that nobody every sleeps in London- the town is constantly on the move).

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We decided that our best opportunity to view the museum would be if we got there just as it opened and as things turned out, that was a very wise idea. It seems that most, if not all, of the museums in London open at 10 am so it pays to plan accordingly. General Admission to the V&A is free although they do charge for most of the special exhibits.

To avoid the crowds, once the museum opened we made a beeline for the farther reaches of the building where we pretty much had the exhibit areas to ourselves for the good part of an hour. First stop was an area devoted to the Arts and Crafts Movement:

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a lot of pictures here but it was interesting to see some of the major sources of fashion inspiration during the late 19th Century. Here’s some example of graphics that were influenced by the movement:

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Unfortunately, the pictures don’t do justice to the wealth of displays to include complete reconstructions of rooms such as this:

Related image

Related image

Of course, as a byproduct of the Arts and Crafts Movement was the Aesthetic Dress Movement, a movement that arose in reaction to the structured fashions of the late Victorian Eras. Drawing on Medieval and Renaissance fashions along with Japanese and Chinese fashion influences, aesthetic dress sought to return dress to loose, free-flowing forms, unrestrained by corsetry and elaborate underpinnings. Here’s just one example on display:

Aesthetic Dress Movement

Unfortunately, the room configuration and the glass cover didn’t help the picture-taking any but lucky for us, here are a couple more images from the V&A Museum website that should help show off the details (note, I don’t believe that the placard in the above picture is for this dress):

Aesthetic Dress Movement

Liberty & Co., London, Tea Gown, c. 1894; V&A Museum (T.56-1976)

Aesthetic Dress Movement

Here’s a second example on display:

Aesthetic Dress Movement

Once again, we have the same challenges in getting a good look at the garment but fortunately, we have some better images from the V&A website:

Aesthetic Dress Movement c. 1905

Forma, Dress, c. 1905; V&A Museum (CIRC.638&A-1964)

Aesthetic Dress Movement c. 1905

 

When compared to the prevailing styles of the early 1900s, the two above examples of Aesthetic dress provide a sharp contrast and it could be argued that they were the precursor to the Nouveau Directoire and Classical Greece-inspired styles that were to emerge on to the fashion scene in 1908-09. Stay tuned for more…. πŸ™‚

To be continued….