Fashion History Weekly Round-Up: 2/12/19

Welcome back to the Fashion History Weekly Round-Up! Here are some of the things I’ve seen this week that have inspired and fascinated me…

#1 – ‘A Rare Glimpse Inside The Met’s Costume Institute Conservation Laboratory’ from Vogue

A real treat – a behind the scenes insight into one of the busiest fashion and dress conservation labs in the world! This week British Vogue published an article highlighting the work of head conservator Sarah Scaturro and her team at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Just to provide you some mind-blowing facts and figures…

The highly skilled team at The Met conserve 33,000 artefacts, painstakingly preserving, mending and maintaining the condition of items dating from the 15th century onwards.

In the article, four garments undertaking ‘treatment’ at the lab are cited as examples for revealing conservation processes. I did giggle when the journalist referred to these items as ‘patients’ – after all, they do require a lot of care!

Aside from a silk 1911 Callot Soeurs dress (with a tear on the hem which required one conservator to spend an hour fixing EACH inch) which I lusted over, I was so pleased to see that Vogue had included a case study of a Tudor jerkin! Hurray!

instagram post

Screenshot of 25/11/19 Fashion History Round-Up 25/11/19 from Instagram account @whatgrandmawore. ‘A Rare Glimpse Inside The Met’s Costume Institute Conservation Laboratory,’ image copyright of British Vogue.

I loved how journalist Kira Garcia summarised the jerkin in the article:

‘This mysterious garment’s imposing and questionable history is a reminder that fashion can leave us with a haunting sense of lived experience long after the wearer is gone.’

The fascinating research undertaken by the team, has suggested that the jerkin may have been worn by a woman. The original design (since the team believed the jerkin has been reworked over time), has also been revealed by conservation work. I hope this article gives readers an insight into the amount of work and skill required to maintain the collections of the museums we visit. particularly as the popularity of fashion exhibitions increases.

If you would like to read the article, you can find it here:

#2 – An Instagram post from @katestrasdin 

Any of you interested in fashion history will undoubtedly know of the fantastic Kate Strasdin. The historian and lecturer posted a fantastic image of a 1760-90 gown which originally belonged to Deborah Sampson Gannett. I loved her post because it reminded me exactly why I love fashion and dress history. A story always lies within the seams of clothing, and an investigation of clothing can reveal the lives and stories of those who wore them.

Gannett enlisted in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary Army, disguised as a man, until she was wounded. She later toured America after the war, sharing her experiences and fighting for the right to receive her military pension. I appreciated the contrast between Gannett’s surviving garments and her life experiences; the feminine in juxtaposition to her time serving in the army within a masculine world, only accessible to her once her femininity was supressed.

1760 dress

1998.5875. Dress worn by Deborah Sampson Gannett. 1760-90. Historic New England Collection.

#3 – A new children’s clothing exhibition opens at Leicester’s New Walk Museum

If you stumble across children’s clothing whilst searching online museum collections, you will often read that children’s clothing is a reflection of adult fashion. Children’s clothing, particularly from the examples I’ve seen from the 19th century, are like miniature garments fashioned from adult models. Some garments are made to the same breathtaking quality as their adult counterparts and incorporate contemporary trends.

The new exhibition in Leicester will include an embroidered dress belonging to the son of King George III, and a knitted baby’s jacket from the 1690s. Children’s clothes are not often the subject of exhibitions, since they are so fragile and more easily affected by external factors such as light and temperature. The varied collection will exhibit a wide range of clothing from various centuries.

If you would like to find out more about the exhibition, which will be running until February 2020, you can read the article from the BBC here:

#4 – A new blog post from me and @whatsaroxy!

You may have been following the work that me and Netherlands based artist @whatsaroxy have been working on, and we are pleased to say that our project has been written about on the @modemuze.nlblog! This is great coverage for us as me and Roxy will be looking to place more of a focus on garments from institutions based in The Netherlands.

Although the blog has been written in Dutch, you can read the English versions of the projects on my own blog. You can look forward to another artistic interpretation from me and @whatsaroxy soon.

Again, thank you to everyone who have allowed me to include them in this post blog post!

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