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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Cheers, London!

Sequined Chanel--too delicate to move
My last few days in London were a mixed of work and pleasure (though not mutually exclusive--I love my co-workers all around the world). On Tuesday and Thursday, I spent the morning with my good friend, Rachel Kurland at the Victoria & Albert Cothworkers' Centre. We view a few garments both times, with the help of curators of the collection. I'm so thankful for Rachel for setting up these appointments and selecting fabulous garment.

A few of the gowns were far too delicate to be moved, but we were still able to view them in their storage drawers.

One of the garments we looked at was a printed cotton gown from the late 1700's. It had no method of closure, so was either pinned or sewn closed. The dress had very little wear and was remarkably vibrant for its age.
Back bodice of a 1700's cotton gown.

The dress that fascinated us the most by far was a persimmon colored Vionnet gown. All her work was like a puzzle, but this was one of the more complicated ones. Unusual seams and gussets. We spent a long time looking at the front, figuring out grainline, seaming and shape, and then when the curator opened the gown to show the inside we both exclaimed, "OHHHHH!!!"

An inside view of a Vionnet.
A view from the groundlings area of Shakespeare's Globe

Tuesday night I met up with Rachel and her husband, David to see Romeo & Juliet at the Globe. It was an edgy, modern interpretation and highly controversial, but I loved it. Especially since we were right at the stage. The death scene played out less than 10 feet from us.

When Rachel and I went back on Thursday morning, there were a few other people looking at garments, most were PhD students. We spoke with one woman at length who is studying the shift starting in the 1600s from dressmaking being almost exclusively male to female. She was studying a gown very similar to one we were looking at, but which hadn't been changed so dramatically (if at all) later.

It turned out she and Rachel knew some NYC theater costume people in common.

Detail on a Calliot Soeurs dress--another gown too delicate to be moved

Embroidery on a velvet half-mourning gown

A hand-painted silk gown from late 1700's that has been altered for fancy dress

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