Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Trip to England - Part 4

First off, sorry about the lack of posting yesterday, but our internet provider is to blame. For a week, the connection has been finicky, but yesterday it refused to work longer than 1 minute every hour. We'll see if it will cooperate long enough for me to actually publish this one!

Monday started off with our group's trip to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Most of my pictures turned out blurry (imagine that!), but we have better pictures from one of the ladies coming. When we get them, I'll be sure to update this post to include more dresses and better pictures of the ones here, so check back!

When we arrived, Suzi took us to the Fashion gallery, but on the way we stopped by the South Asia gallery. They have several gowns from the late 1700s-early 1800s on display because they are made from Indian fabrics. Here are some of the lovelies we saw in the Fashion gallery:

1780-90 stays (I love the detailed underarm leather strip; I had never noticed a zig-zagged edge like that, but a pair of stays in the Museum of London's collection was identical in that regard)

c. 1836-40 Day dress (I love the line of this dress and all the details- including the contrast piping, too bad this is such a very bad picture!)

1775-85 Court Mantua

Yes, I know this is a '70s dress, but the bodice detail is really neat!

Embroidered shoe c. 1730-50

c. 1860 shoe with appliqued ribbons and rosette

Stenciled leather shoe c. 1800 (I just love the pointy shoes of the early Regency and the color combination on these is so striking!)

I will say that the Fashion gallery disappointed me. I assumed that it would all be historical clothing, after all, everyone thinks that fashion beyond the 1950s is ugly! Right?!? ;-) The reality of the gallery was that about half of the garments displayed were 1970s- present! Really, as if you can't look in an average attic and find that kind of thing! *sigh* As I was taking photos of dresses, the main group left for the Textiles gallery, so I went off to find them. When I got there, there was no one in site, but Mom turned up shortly thereafter. We dug right in to the study room which was amazing! Just imagine, a long room with tons of removable slides containing embroidered coifs, medieval tapestry pieces, fabric samples, blackwork, redwork, reticules, etc., etc., etc.! And the room is deserted, so you don't have to worry about working around other people! After taking out and photographing 4 slides, we soon realized that our limited time frame would never allow for taking as much time as we wanted. Sometime, when I have a week to spare, I'll go back and look at them all! :-) Here are a few (i.e. the non-blurry ones!):

Late 16th cen. child's shirt sleeve (can you imagine going to all the work to make the lace and embroider that sleeve, just to put it on your child and hope they don't ruin it?!?)

Late 16th cen. embroidered coif

Just around the corner, we discovered the Medieval Tapestry room. Wow!! I wish we had taken a picture of the whole room, because it was awe-inspiring! Lots of GIANT tapestries with still-brilliant colors and very few holes. And all out in the open, with no glass!

Since the group still hadn't made it to the Textile gallery (we later found out they made a detour through the British galleries), we continued walking through, oohing and ahhing over all the priceless exhibits! Once we met up with the group, they told us they'd be going to the cafe for lunch in half an hour. We decided to skip lunch and instead explore the British galleries. (remember what I mentioned about the way we travel? ;-) )

All my pictures of clothing in the British galleries are so blurry I thought they didn't deserve the publicity, but on our way back, we swung by the South Asia gallery again to take some more pictures of the exquisite gowns on display there. Thank you so much Suzi for taking us there, I never would have thought to look in an Asian gallery for 18th cen. clothing!

c. 1780 dress

The fabric looks printed, but is actually very finely embroidered! Insane!

I will never cease to be amazed at how much they pieced their clothing- the blatant disregard for even matching the pattern is one thing I find very difficult to allow myself to do! The weirdest thing about it is that from a distance, you don't even notice!

c. 1770-80 caraco and petticoat (this caraco is so lovely and reminded me of one we saw in the William Wallace Museum in Williamsburg, but I can't find any of those pictures! :-( )

Notice the sleeve detail- I love the idea, now I'll just have to make a caraco and have sleeves like those... ;-) Hmm, I even have a block-printed Indian muslin waiting for inspiration...

Silk-embroidered cotton dress c. 1795 (that date seems too early to me, but I guess I'm not the expert!)
Delicate sleeve detail

More of the amazing tambour embroidery! This dress is begging to be recreated, but I will definitely have to work on my embroidery skills before I attempt it!

After whizzing through those galleries, we met up with the group. Half of us went with Suzi to her house to see some of her historical clothing goodies. On the way out of the museum, we went through the gift shop. Ah, wonderful! We didn't have any time to look, so maybe next time.... ;-) On the way to the bus stop, we went through Piccadilly Circus.

I really should have included this picture in Sunday's post, as this is the area we were in. Oh well!

Suzi very generously opened her house to us, let us touch and look at some of her historical clothing and recreations and served us tea and scones! :-) Then we headed out to Shakespeare's Globe again, this time for a performance of "As You Like It"! After getting a much-desired supper :-), we went out to sit and wait in line for an hour, to get the best "seats".

Celeste, Kristin, us, and Elizabeth

For all performances in the Globe, the audience has a choice of paying a lot or not as much. Er, I mean they have a choice of being a "groundling" and standing (a Globe tradition dating back to the original) or sitting on wooden benches. We (along with most of the group) were groundlings and were able to get in line soon enough to stand near the front of the stage. This is most definitely the best place to be! Mom had originally planned on skipping the performance because she didn't think her feet would be happy after standing for 3 hours, but there ended up being an extra ticket, so she gave it a try. She didn't leave, and said it was better that expected, so I think that's a good review. The actors are all in period clothing, and we recognized a few from various movies (A&E Emma- Mr. Elton!, Valkyrie, and S&S 2008- Mr. Palmer), so that was tons of fun!! The actors frequently walk through the crowds of groundlings to the stage, and once when someone tapped my shoulder and said, "Excuse me!", it was the main actresses! :-) Mom was standing near the back and during the second half, a man was standing near her. She and her neighbors didn't pay attention to him until he suddenly started giving the epilogue and moved toward the stage. Imagine their surprise when it turned out that he had been wearing a gold organza doublet and breeches entirely covered in feathers, and they hadn't even noticed!!

Next up- Kensington Palace!


  1. Your time at the Globe sounds really nifty. I would probably want the groundling experience as well. Being so close to the actors sounds like it would be a blast.

    I am also amazed at the embroidery on the dress that you called "insane." It indeed looks like it was made by a printing press. I'm not sure how often men's clothes (if ever) had such work put into them, but it's good that less work is needed today. I have a habit of spilling coffee on myself, which I'm sure would do wonders for the tranquility of a home if I somehow managed to get married and was dependent upon my wife to make all my clothing.

  2. *dreamy sigh* All the gowns are just scrumptious! I LOVE the 1830's dress and the two 1780 gowns. I'm adding them to the "someday I'd love to make" list! :-) The regency dress is just gorgeous too - so elegant! Must have been from when the style was first coming in for it to have such an early date.

    I can't imagine embroidering that whole dress so finely. I'd be scared to wear it!