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).
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:
Unfortunately, the pictures don’t do justice to the wealth of displays to include complete reconstructions of rooms such as this:
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:
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):
Liberty & Co., London, Tea Gown, c. 1894; V&A Museum (T.56-1976)
Here’s a second example on display:
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:
Forma, Dress, c. 1905; V&A Museum (CIRC.638&A-1964)
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…. 🙂
To be continued….