The Yarwood Award 2017

Katie Godman: Yarwood Report My MA project, ‘From the Neo-Classical to the Romantic 1800 to 1830: An Investigation into the Influences for this Stylist Shift’ focused on the dramatic changes in women’s dress during the early nineteenth century. I was drawn to this era due to the striking, liberated silhouettes of the empire line gowns which contrast to the restrictive Romantic fashions which come after. Much of my preliminary research described the Neo-Classical fashions as liberating, not just in style, but also in a social sense as they were supposedly worn by all classes due to their simplicity. This seemed to be down to the many social and economic changes that were taking place during this period which facilitated the rise of the middle class. This period of class mobility was very interesting to me, and I thought that primary research would be required to assess the shape, feel and durability of the dresses to see if they were as classless as they seemed. I ended up focusing on smaller collections outside of London, partly as I thought they would have more garments owned by the middle-classes and also as I thought they might have been subject to less research. The archives I decided to visit were Blaise Castle Museum (Bristol), The Fashion Museum (Bath), The Bowes Museum (Bernard Castle), Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, The Gallery of Costume (Manchester), Chertsey Museum and Worthing Museum and Art Gallery. These sites were also interesting as they were spread around the country and part of my initial research detailed fashion speeding up during this period in different areas, which could have been a reason for the dramatic shift in styles. Examining how quickly fashion changed outside of London could also point to issues of class. The archives had a wide range of garments from the period and proved to be a treasure trove of information. Handling such a selection of pieces really helped me to gain an insight into the fashion of the era by seeing the the cut and feel of the clothes, as well as the how the gradual changes in style could reflect an increasing public obsession with morality and preserving class structures as the century progressed. I found that many of the changes in fashion were gradual and subtle, and also that fashion was changing at a fast rate. On the surface the shift seems abrupt but up close the shift was happened gradually. Handling the gowns and seeing how they would have been constructed and worn also raised questions about whether they really were classless after all, as the pale fabric, apron fronts and trains were more suited to a romanticised peasant than a real life hard working-class woman. However it was interesting to see that in the 1810s the arrival of back fastening dresses brought added practicality, which coincided with the decorations on the gowns became more ornate, re-enforcing the wealth of the wearer. This primary research proved a vital element of my work and helped me focus on issues of class. I would like to thank Costume Society for the grant, which helped fund the research and enabled me to research Regency dress throughout the country.

Stephanie Badley, Arts University Bournemouth, 2017 The Patterns of Fashion Award

C1887-9 Day Dress V&A

Amy Jones, Coleg y Cymoedd, 2016 The Patterns of Fashion Award

Patterns of Fashion Award:


We had entries from six different colleges and invited four to the finals at the Conference. Four finalists attended the finals held during the Conference. Once again the standard of workmanship shown was of a very high standard and all were congratulated by our judge, John Bright,  Founder and Managing Director of Cosprop.


The winner was Amy Jones from Coleg y Cymoedd with her Youth’s brown leather jerkin. Our judge commented on her work saying that he was impressed not only by the skills she had shown in the handling of this difficult material whilst recreating the jerkin but also her thorough research into the methods used and studying garments of a similar age.

 

 

Heidi Peace

Museum Placement Award 2016 Touchstones, Rochdale

Hayley Ovitts, third year Textile student at Manchester Metropolitan University was 2016's recipient of the Museum Placement Award, but unfortunately owing to pressure of work for her final year was unable to complete her placement.

Sarah Hodgkinson, Museum Curator and Collections Manager, Touchstones, reports on the project.

Touchstones has a large and impressive collection of female dress.  Staff and volunteers have been working on a project to document this part of the museum collection for a number of years.  One of the outcomes of the documentation project resulted in an ambitious exhibition, Frocks: Dress and Accessories from the Museum Collection which opened in November 2016.  The show revealed the stories behind some of the outfits featured, many of which had not been on display before.  Exhibits included a recently conserved Victorian wedding dress, dazzling 1920s beaded dresses, 1930s Hollywood influenced glitz and glamour, and customised outfits from the austerity years and WWII. Highlights included an Ossie Clark design from the early 1970s. 

As part of the show we worked with a group of Manchester Metropolitan University Art and Design students, one of whom created a design in response to the historic collection that features in the exhibition;  we wanted to extend this opportunity and strengthen our existing partnership with MMU by offering a placement to a textile student who could use their skills and experience to assist with the preparation of the exhibition.

Hayley Ovitts, a third year Textile student, joined us and after some initial training she began to document some of the objects that were selected for the show.  Tasks that Hayley also undertook included handling, packing and storing the dress collection, object labelling to SPECTRUM standards, and condition checking using our collections management software (Ke Emu).  She also undertook research and photography of items using specialist lighting and digital cameras.  Hayley had the opportunity to work alongside museum curators, collections specialists and existing volunteers, including a textile conservator.

The museum at Touchstones has an established university placement programme with previous students successfully going on to gain employment within the heritage sector. 

For enquiries about how to make an application for the 2017 award please email 

awards@costumesociety.org.uk

 

Katherine Newbury Arts University, Bournemouth 2015

The judge, John Bright, was impressed by the extent of her research and the skills learnt so rapidly in creating this beautifully made and executed jacket. Katherine had no previous experience with embroidery.

  • Katherine Newbury, Winner Pattern of Fashion 2015
  • Katherine Newbury, Winner Pattern of Fashion 2015
  • Katherine Newbury, Winner Pattern of Fashion 2015

Katherine Newbury, Arts University, Bournemouth 2015 The Patterns of Fashion Award

The judge, John Bright, was impressed by the extent of her research and the skills learnt so rapidly in creating this beautifully made and executed jacket. Katherine had no previous experience with embroidery.

  • Katherine Newbury, Winner Pattern of Fashion 2015
  • Katherine Newbury, Winner Pattern of Fashion 2015
  • Katherine Newbury, Winner Pattern of Fashion 2015

Lily Batsford, Arts University Bournemouth, 2016 The Conference Student Bursary

My attendance at the Costume Societies 2016 conference would not have been possible without the support offered by a student bursary provided by the costume society. It was an incredible experience which I feel privileged to have been awarded. I am walking away with deeper understanding and a valuable insight into the professional industry. Thanks must also be given to the already well established speakers, whose expert knowledge has opened my eyes to parts of history I had not yet encountered. A fellow attendee suggested the weekend was like “opening pandoras box.” A mere glimpse showed you how little you knew and had yet to discover.

I started off the weekend with a tour around the People’s History Museum. The attendees and I were given ‘behind the scenes’ access with a personal look at the conservation room. They were in the middle of working on a 4 meter by 4 metre square memorial banner for a cardinal. It had been hand painted and the paint was pulling at the silk banner; slowly eroding the material that gave it structure and support. We got to see the painstaking process conservationists went through to preserve this piece of history. Covering it with a colour matched, hand dyed gauze - which is then hand sewn through the banner on to a backing fabric - this gives a more dispersed structure which relies on the strength of the additions rather than the original piece. We went on a further two tours with the conference: one at the Whitworth Gallery, where the conference was held, and another of the newest exhibition at the Manchester Art Gallery, “Fashion & Freedom,” which explored the impact of the first world war in light of it’s one hundred year anniversary.
My first opportunity to network and meet other people was at the Pre-dinner drinks reception on the Friday night. I admit, as I walked into the room I was slightly terrified. As I stood and looked around, my tutor, E-J Scott, told me “we are in a room full of dark horses," and through out the course of the night I discovered how true this was. Each lovely individual held a wealth of knowledge far outstretching anything I had ever previously encountered. Everyone had a passion or specialty, but each connoisseur never once lorded their talents over those of lesser knowledge. Instead, they shared and explained, all happy to impart their wisdom to those wanting to learn. The fear before embarking on this adventure was my imaginings of a room full of intimidatingly smart people who would have no time for my own lack of expertise. Yet, all I had to do was ask “what do you do or specialise in?” and I would be met with the most incredible stories. I encountered a woman who had travelled around the globe, picking up design jobs along the way. Each time she ‘name-dropped’ a country, and saw the wonder in my eyes, there was a cheeky grin that would spread across her face. I met a university lecturer who has written books on corsetry, and managed to change my disapproving opinion of them in a single conversation. A Phd student told me of her research into translating Russian and Ukrainian folk law and how the study of dress history was helping her gain context for her research. So many stories were shared. So many things I never knew!

Saturday morning I arrived at The Whitworth Gallery for my first round of lectures. I was poised with pen and paper ready to capture every fact. The advice I had received for this segment was to be open to every single talk; that titles in my program could not be used to judge the lecture that would follow. This was much needed advice, as previously I had not seen the intrigue in ‘Early Modern Needlework Pattern Books: ‘Designs for Democracy’ or in? ‘The Rise of the Fashionable Mass Produced Blouse: 1914 - 1918, design, manufacture and consumption.’ Yet both of these held my fascination till the end. I saw their impact on the world around them and the people’s lives in which they were intwined. The speaker of both these lectures must  be thanked and congratulated, as they were incredibly engaging and informative.

I am often fuelled in my own research by emotional response to the occurrences of the past.  Recently, I have become fascinated with the impact of theatre costume with in the context of the first and second world war. How, through its familiarity and enchantment, it had a direct effect by subduing the emotional trauma caused as a consequence of the world wars. Hearing about how blouse manufacturers changed their product to suit the needs of women living through the second world war, helps lend perspective to how an event (like the mass mourning of a country) can lead a manufacturer to start making black blouses — therefore, leading to a change in British Culture for women in the clutches of war. Rather than subduing the trauma they found a way to make it profitable, consequently, the manufacturers changed the rituals of mourning.

I have left the weekend feeling armed with more knowledge, more contacts and an increased desire to learn. I would highly recommend this conference to anyone. It has furthered my love of dress history and introduced me to a community who love it too. I hope to return next year, and learn even more. Less terrified this time!

  • Lily Batsford, Winner of Student Conference Bursary 2016

Ellie Birch, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama 2016 The Conference Student Bursary

I was fortunate enough to be awarded the Costume Society’s Student Bursary award for 2016, so that I might attend the Society’s Conference in Manchester, an event which has given me insights into the world of costume conservation and interpretation and certainly allowed me to make informed and exciting decisions about my future career within this immersive field of study.
A week before I attended the conference I graduated with a First class honours degree from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff. I had decided to take the costume route during my degree but had also chosen to specialise even further by looking specifically at historical costume for stage, screen, museums and re-enactment. I intend to further my academic education by undertaking a Master’s degree within the field of dress history so I felt sure that attending the conference would put me in touch with people who might be able to suggest or advise courses of action, which it certainly did.
I arrived in Manchester on the Friday afternoon, and, having settled my things in a luxurious hotel room, I marched to the People’s History Museum on the Mancunian riverbank and enjoyed an afternoon tour of the museum’s textile conservation rooms and it’s collection of political and social protest banners, some of which dated back to the early 19th century. The staff gave us an interesting and in depth look into conservation, including using a thin silk overlaid onto the particularly delicate banners which, at a single touch, might turn to dust and with it, a peek into the cultural history of that particular era. The staff at the museum work exclusively to conserve the textiles – stabilising the item’s condition and preventing further decomposition, and not, they assured us, by restoring them – repairing an item to its original condition, if that means damaging the integrity and provenance of the item. 
After returning from the museum, I refreshed myself and headed down to the hotel’s bar, to meet people as interested in the field of dress and costume as I was. I was amazed at how varied the interests and professions of the members were, and I think that is part of the reason the Costume Society is so special as its members hold such an extensive wealth of textile knowledge. I met lace makers, historical reenactors, university lecturers on fashion or social history, and published authors. Certainly a fantastic and memorable evening, and having such a friendly social event ensured that I was never lonely during the weekend!
The Saturday began with a brisk walk to Manchester’s Whitworth gallery, in which the talks would take place.  Starting the day was a fascinating talk on the topic of Early Modern Needlebooks: Designs for Democracy by Lisa VandenBerghe. I thought it awe-inspiring and humbling to think of the thousands of women who had sat at their tables patiently embroidering and decorate textiles which, as Ms VandenBerghe suggested, was a method by which women could benefit their household’s wealth and social standing, rather than using needle work purely for leisure. It should be noted that needles, at this time, are claimed to have been “instruments of suppression”, while the needle pattern books themselves were perhaps to shape “docile women”. I found this more sinister, misogynistic aspect of needle work thrilling, as my dissertation – Women as Rulers, Women as Ruled: The Politics of Fashion and Gender in the Elizabethan World which had recently been completed, researched the topic of gender inequality in the Early Modern Britain and Ms VandenBerghe’s paper further confirmed my initial undergraduate ideas and discourse.
The vast spectrum of topics on which the papers were written was breath-taking – papers included research undertaken on the increase in mass production of blouses during WWI.  Here,  Suzanne Rowland’s knowledge on the social aspect of the garment was incredible. Similarly, Anthony Bednall’s discussion on the modernisation and alternation of traditional Chinese clothing during the Cultural Revolution was engrossing. Dr Lucy Worsley’s presentation on 500 Years of Royal Fashion was utterly enthralling, and her delight when regaling the audience with a humorous contemporary anecdote, such as Georgian women in sedan chairs being likened to “the foetus of a hippo in a brandy bottle,” was contagious.
On the Saturday evening we were all treated to a buffet meal within the hotel, and although my initial instinct was to seat myself next to the people I had already met, I forced myself to sit alone and wait for the table to fill up. To my delight, I was joined by people who had spent much of their adult life in the society, and thus were deeply involved in it, and I spent an enjoyable evening discussing life during WWII, the future of the society, mentoring, and the importance of sartorial and social history in modern culture.
The conference culminated in a wonderful trip to the Manchester Art Gallery where we were treated to tea and delicious cakes after perusing the gallery’s amazing collection of Pre-Raphaelite artworks, and attending a guided tour of the Vogue 100 exhibition which included an outfit from the Vivienne Westwood fashion house – glittering and bedazzling as expected!
Ultimately, the weekend symposium was an utterly unforgettable experience and one which I will not forget for many years, (although I intend to repeat the experience in 2017!!) and I have made – I hope – many friends and colleagues in the process.

  • Ellie Birch, Winner of Student Conference Bursary 2016

Sarah Laurenson, Edinburgh University 2015 The Conference Student Bursary

I was delighted to be invited to speak about my doctoral research on jewellery at The Costume Society’s 50th anniversary conference, ‘The Power of Gold’, in July. The Conference Student Bursary allowed me to attend the full programme of conference events at the V&A in London which, given that I am based at the University of Edinburgh, would not have been possible without support. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be involved.
The conference was directly relevant to my research on the material culture of jewellery in Scotland from 1780 to 1914. Jewellery is often missing from the histories of dress and fashion. In museums, jewellery artefacts are presented as disembodied objects rather than on dressed mannequins. Yet, as highlighted in Costume (Vol. 40, 2005) in relation to the Ruby Symposium, 'We wear dress and jewellery together – why separate them intellectually?' Working from this idea, my research uses dress history theories and methodologies to analyse jewellery objects as primary sources – as material evidence of the shifting relationship between producers and consumers in nineteenth-century Scotland. By concentrating on jewellery as one specific form of dress, my thesis contributes to wider debates on the interplay between the materiality and meanings of worn things.
‘The Power of Gold’ conference furthered my work on both an intellectual and a professional level. The seamless way in which the histories of dress and jewellery were explored helped me to further my own research ideas. For example, Natasha Awais-Dean’s paper on men and jewellery in Tudor and Jacobean England inspired me to draw more heavily on portraiture to understand how jewellery and clothing was important in constructing gender identities. The fascinating insights provided by Kate Wigley’s talk on the use of gold threads in royal fabrics helped me to think about how metals and textiles intersect within artefacts, and to consider the multitude of ways that this area might be examined.
The activities and influence of The Costume Society and Costume journal has heavily influenced my research thus far, and ‘The Power of Gold’ conference has been extremely useful in crystallising my interdisciplinary approach and informing my work as I enter my final PhD year. Attending the conference allowed me to make new connections and meet researchers from related fields, which I hope will lead to future collaborations. Overall, the conference was an inspiring and thought-provoking experience that marked an exciting moment for the historical study of costume and dress in all its forms.

  • Sarah Laurenson, Winner of Student Conference Bursary 2015

Kerri Plumtree, University of Lincoln 2015 The Conference Student Bursary

THE COSTUME SOCIETY CONFERENCE, LONDON: “THE POWER OF GOLD”- CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF THE COSTUME SOCIETY
By Kerri Plumtree
REPORT:
This year I was fortunate enough to be awarded The Costume Societies Conference Student Bursary. I study Fashion at The University of Lincoln and it was an honour and a privilege to be given the opportunity to attend this event and join all the members of The Costume Society in celebrating their Bi-centenary. I met so many remarkable and erudite people from different disciplinary backgrounds all unified by their passionate commitment to conserve Costume, Fashion and Textiles for future generations. As part of the Bursary award I was given the opportunity to visit the Clothworkers’ Centre at
Blythe House. The centre specialises in the study and conservation of Textiles and Fashion. It was a chance to get up close and personal with a variety of carefully selected pieces from the V&A archives. It was a breath taking experience to see the varied use of gold within so many beautiful historical garments and in such great detail. The selection of garments illustrated the various techniques designers and dressmakers utilised to imbue the power of gold within their work. I especially enjoyed the examples of straw work, they appealed to the child within me and reminded me of the popular fairy tale ‘Rumpelstiltskin’. As a designer I am always looking for new techniques to consider when developing my concepts. Being at the Clothworkers’ centre I felt like a kid in a candy shop, it was a rich source of research and inspiration and I look forward visiting again.

Over two days I had the privilege of listening to various speakers discuss their thoughts on the power of gold within Costume and Fashion throughout the ages. One of the personal high lights for me from Saturday included Claire Wilcox’ presentation on the Alexander Mc Queen exhibition ‘Savage Beauty’. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear the curator speak about the practices the team executed to create such a moving and thought provoking tribute to the late Fashion designer Lee Mc Queen (I’m not ashamed to say I went all fan girl and got my ticket signed). The exhibition itself was
phenomenal by far the best Fashion exhibition I have ever seen, it was a fully immersive experience. One I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Within my own fashion practice research I am investigating our relationship with Fashion and the moving image. By visiting the exhibition and hearing Claire speak I was able to examine in depth how the moving image within Fashion creates symbolic value and what it adds to the viewer’s experience, and the recollection of those encounters. Using Alexander McQueen as an example of a designer who used the moving image within his own Fashion practice, the occasion proved to be a valuable resource for my research.


So, I’m nearing the end of my time at University and it is time for me to contemplate my final collection and to consider the materials and techniques I will use. On the second day of the conference Joanne Horton gave a presentation entitled “All that Glitters is not necessarily gold: An examination of chemical metallisation techniques in Couture Textiles.” I was enthused by her in depth analysis of the chemical processes and technologies employed by contemporary Fashion designers to create a luxurious aesthetic to their work. It has prompted me to explore further the possibility of inter disciplinary collaboration within my own practice. Utilising more of the departments within my own University and building relationships with my peers beyond areas of my own expertise. I endeavour to cultivate innovative and imaginative results when sourcing materials and developing my own textiles.
The Bursary I was awarded also included an invitation to the Gala dinner held at The Imperial College. (The real reason any student attends anything, the prospect of free food...only joking). In all seriousness though who doesn’t relish the opportunity don their finest regalia paint on a bit of slap and catch a bit of down time wining and dining in the company of funny and interesting people. I bagged myself a signed book at the silent auction, an excellent addition to my personal Fashion library. My way of giving back a little of what was given to me. It was here I learnt the most about what the society is all about. The Costume Society is a collective of people, perhaps even ‘family’ that has grown together over the last 50 years to celebrate and appreciate Costume and Fashion. They work tirelessly to support each other in the conservation of Clothing, generously sharing their knowledge and funding people like me to further my research and continue the dissemination of information about the social importance of clothing. I am truly grateful to have been part of such a fantastic weekend and I can’t wait to see you all again next year in Manchester for ‘Democracy and Fashion’. May you continue to grow over the next 50.

  • Kerri Plumtree, Winner of Student Conference Bursary 2015

2016 Anushka Tay, MA Fashion Cultures, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London The Yarwood Award

 Anushka Tay carried out a study of the Chinese pyjama suit for her MA Fashion Cultures project ( London College of Fashion).  Anushka was dedicated to a material culture approach in her research;  after discovering there are few examples of Chinese pyjamas in UK museum collections Tay was able to use the Yarwood award to fund a trip to Singapore and Hong Kong to conduct primary research. 

Yarwood Award Report

The Samfu Suit 1920-1969:  Diaspora, Modernity, Representation

For my Masters dissertation I knew that I didn't want to research what typically springs to mind when you utter the words 'period costume'. Whilst I love the European fashion history that is familiar to us all, I was intent on contributing to the research of different dress styles around the world, and I decided to investigate samfu.

A Cantonese term meaning literally top, trousers,  samfu is a unisex, two-piece outfit that was frequently worn by working-class Chinese people around the world until around the 1970s.  Always an ethnicised garment, during the 1940s and 1950s it also made a cross-over into US fashion as 'Chinese pyjamas',  where it was associated with luxury and leisure-traits that were entirely at odds with its connotations in Asia.  I was fascinated by the dual meanings that the garment seemed to hold, which were in such opposition.  However, I soon discovered that researching this garment would prove more challenging than I'd forseen.

Unlike its sexier counterpart the cheongsam dress, samfu have been significantly under-researched in both popular and academic texts. I was initially keen to take a material culture approach; however, I didn't find it easy to find examples of the garments to study.  The lack of both material culture and written research of this typically working-class, everyday garment suggested that it had not been considered important enough to preserve.  I was firm in the belief that samfu had once been a regularly-worn style of clothing, and began to realise that this might be due to a specific regional wearing of the garment, perhaps being more common to the diasporic Chinese communities in Malaysia and Singapore.  I needed to be more creative with my research methods, and turned to the people-based research methods of oral histories, family photograph albums and personal wardrobes.  Initial enquiries in the UK were limited, and I realised that the research necessitated a trip abroad in order to meet with and talk to members of the Chinese communities of Singapore and Malaysia.

The Trip Abroad

The Yarwood Award enabled me to make this essential trip,  as it covered the majority of the costs of travel.  I spent a week in Singapore and five days in Hong Kong.  I was fortunate in being able to stay with family and friends, who quickly introduced me to a local view of these places.  Whilst abroad, I was able to conduct three interviews, and view several of my interview subjects' family photographs.  The interviews introduced me to new considerations of samfu that I had previously been unaware of, suggesting particular theories regarding its wear and stylistic development.  Engaging with people who had strong memories of a period when the samfu was everyday attire enhanced my Masters dissertation in many ways.

I was curious as to whether the lack of publications featuring the samfu might be due to a regional bias, and so I spent time researching in the National Library, Singapore, and the Hong Kong Central Library;  I also visited large bookshops in both places to browse their Fashion History sections.  I was somewhat surprised to discover that the texts available were dominated by volumes on European couture designers.  However, the National Library in Singapore had excellent English language sections dedicated to South-East Asian political and cultural history, which underpinned the contextual background of my dissertation.

I also wanted to discover how familiar events in history would be presented in Asia compared to how they're taught in the UK, and so a signifiant part of my trip was visiting the National Museum of History and the Hong Kong Heritage Museum.  Whilst my remit was cultural history, these museums also provided a fascinating intoduction to the two nations' local histories, and their relationship with England as part of the British Empire.

Conclusion

The trip to Singapore and Hong Kong was  key to researching my Masters dissertation.  Whilst abroad, I not only met people, visited museums and carried out interviews, but discovered concepts, theories and different approaches to history that I would have been unlikely to come across otherwise.  The opportunity to engage directly with the cultural production of the countries I was researching was an integral part of a project that investigated moments of cross-cultural fusion, as was the opportunity to meet with some of  the people whose cultural heritage I was studying.  Thank you very much to everyone at the Costume Society for your support!

 

  • Anushka Tay, MA Fashion Cultures, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London
  • A lady in Hong Kong. Anushka Tay.
  • The Hong Kong Museum of History. Anushka Tay.
  • Khoo and Tai Family, Singapore. Anushka Tay.
  • Yao Family. Three Generations, Singapore 1962. Anushka tay.
  • Madame Khoo and her eldest son. Malaysia c. 1950. Anushka Tay.

Clementine Greeley RWCMD, 2014 The Patterns of Fashion Award

Clementine’s hand sewn reconstruction of this dress in spotted muslin showed her skills with the delicate detailing. 'It is not easy to keep this dress looking so light and airy' the judge, John Bright felt she had achieved this well. He also felt that her research was very thorough and this helped her to capture ‘the look’ of this period so well.

  • Clementine Greeley Patterns of Fashion Winner 2014

Maya Wassell Smith, University of Brighton 2014 The Conference Student Bursary

At the beginning of July I was invited to attend the 49th annual Costume Society Symposium in Exeter as part of the Student Bursary Award Scheme. The opportunity to listen to such creative and well-researched papers, given by such important figures in the dress and textile history discipline, has greatly inspired and informed my own research practise.

The theme of the symposium was ‘Rites of Passage’, a consideration of clothing and textile’s significance in marking and transacting important life events. This included discussion of the major milestones- birth, marriage and death, but also of the smaller triumphs and tribulations that demarcate lives. My own research looks at embroidered silk-organdie postcards, produced by continental mechanised embroidery industries and sent home by soldiers serving in the trenches during the First World War. I am principally interested in understanding the way in which cloth and clothing negotiate human experience and provide comfort, during significant or emotionally turbulent life events, be they jubilant or sorrowful. This symposium demonstrated the apposite importance of textile and dress in these scenarios in a number of ways.

The connotations of, and importance placed in, particular textile materials, was a ‘thread’ running through many of the papers. In her paper ‘New Approaches to Mourning Dress’, Lou Taylor described the physical properties of crape- a dull, lifeless, scratchy and uncomfortable fabric- as augmenting its position as the culturally determined staple of 19th century mourning wear. Kate Strasdin’s paper ‘Royal wedding lace: Reviving an industry 1840-63’ demonstrated lace’s status, as a symbolically significant material. Firstly on a personal scale, through discussion of Queen Victoria’s wedding lace, which she went on to wear at the christenings and marriages of her children. And secondly, as a practice and product through which to corral regional pride, as well as provide greater economic stability, within the Devon industries, which produced the bobbin lace used for royal wedding dress.

Edwina Ehrman’s and Johanna Hashagen’s keynotes were both wonderful examples of the power of social and biographical history within and alongside fashion history, particularly that of wedding dress. Edwina’s talk, an introduction to the current V & A exhibition, began with her saying that she had approached the exhibition, which draws from the V & A collections, from a social history rather than design point of view. Particularly interesting were the aspects of the talk which demonstrated the communality of weddings, whereby it might be watched on the news, or gifts and souvenir cards may be given to unconnected spectator members of public. Discussion of the degree to which fashion governed wedding dresses was as interesting when looking at women who followed and were inspired by Queen Victoria’s white with orange blossom wedding outfit, as when looking at those who chose less fashionable and possibly more practical outfits, which could be re-used and re-worn, or were simply more to the taste of the bride.

Johanna’s paper used a beautiful 1912 Lucille wedding dress as a conduit through which to tell the life-story of its owner and wearer. This paper affirmed the position of dress as so crucially linked to lives of people, and subsequently, such an apposite space for the historian to uncover and present these histories.

The aspect of dress as being worn by people also came across in Harriet Waterhouse’s paper, ‘His First Suit,’ which, with reference to the perils of potty training Tudor infants, discussed breeching practices in the 16th and 17th centuries. I very much appreciated the attention Harriet paid to the act and experience of wearing, as well as the particular and practical necessities of clothing. The consideration of both the mother’s and son’s emotional responses to the lead up to and the ceremony of breeching, further cemented clothing’s significance as we move through life, taking on new identities.

Attending this symposium enriched my understanding of the importance of dress in the transaction of ‘rites of passage’, as well as introducing me to new sources of evidence for study. The opportunity to see items from both the collections at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Killerton House was fantastic in illustrating the themes of the weekend and emphasising the critical importance of historical dress collections.

  • Maya Wassell Smith, Winner Student Symposium Bursary 2014

E-J Scott, University of Brighton The Conference Student Bursary

My attendance at the Costume Society Symposium, 2014 in Exeter was made possible thanks to the generosity of the Costume Society UK and Maney Publishing via the Symposium Student Bursary Award, for which I am very grateful. I applied as a student from the University of Brighton completing and MA History of Design and Material Culture, following my completion of BA History of Fashion and Dress, under the supervision of Professor Lou Taylor for both degrees. I would like to thank Professor Taylor for her contribution to my studies, as well as for her contribution as Trustee of the Costume Society, a position from which resigned on the Sunday of the Symposium this year, having been a member since 1967.
The Symposium was a tremendous opportunity for me to extend my knowledge in the field of dress history. It provides the best opportunity annually to mix with makers, amateur enthusiasts (many of who are deeply informed) and industry professionals (both academic and from the museum) anywhere in the UK. Personally, with my aspirations to work in the field, combined with my enthusiasm for the subject matter, the week-end offered me an opportunity to study, network and quite simply, genuinely enjoy the company of like-minded attendees.
The quality of the speakers was exceptional and the depth of research evident in numerous papers was an inspiration. Of particular interest to my research and practice was Joanna Hashagen Bowes Museum ‘I knew he was wild, but was ready to take to take a chance on his settling down, so in 1912 we got married’ The story behind a wedding dress by Lucile. Her in-depth analysis of the social history surrounding one woman’s collection fits directly with my inquiry into Anna Pennington Mellor’s House of Worth wardrobe. Joanna’s meticulous inquiry used the material culture of her subject’s wardrobe to explore issues including class, gender and identity in the early twentieth century. It was absolutely fascinating and provided me with a great deal of motivation to enjoy piecing together the social history of the collection I am exploring.
Similarly, Edwina Ehrman’s social history rationale behind her curation of the V&A’s Wedding Dress exhibition was entirely relevant to the approach I am formulating for my own practice. Coming from a material culture background, I aspire to talk about social issues through objects. Edwina’s honesty about the difference of this approach to that of a design historian was frank and candid. It also provided a sound rationale as to why the exhibition has been so successful- the audience wants not only to see the dresses, they want to know who wore them, where and why. This is what I believe dress history should provide in the museum- a deeper understanding not just of fashion, but of the world around us.
My ultimate highlight was Sunday’s visit to Killerton Park. Driving ahead with curator Shelley Tobin, I had my own private tour of the countryside as she pointed out the National Trust’s buildings and explained how the trust’s activities impacted on the area. More delights were to come, as I managed to wangle myself into the stores to help with setting up the objects for viewing for the Costume Society. I am never happier than when I am in a museum store, and having the chance to work with Shelley was just delightful. Her in-depth knowledge, her understanding of both the history of the garments and the audience to whom she was presenting, as well as her honesty about the restrictions within the workings of the museum reflected her deep commitment to the field. Shelley displayed a range of crepe that was of great interest to me, having listened to Lou Taylor present on mourning dress earlier in the
day. The viewing fed directly into my research, as more than half of the dresses in the Pennington Mellor collection are black, and trying to discern whether or not they were bought in a time of grief has been difficult. However, I am becoming more and more convinced that they were chosen for their elegance, rather than to mark her miscarriage or her husband’s death.
The most powerful moment of the weekend though, reflecting the importance of the Costume Society at large, was when all our members filled out comment cards in support of the collection at Killerton House and the informed work of Shelley Tobin. I believe it should be part of the work of the Costume Society to offer support to curators being challenged by marketing departments lacking in-depth knowledge of good museum practice surrounding dress collections and displays. It was an important reminder to us all to make it our own standard practice to provide feedback to every venue we visit to view dress collections.
Here’s to the continued vocal presence of the Costume Society UK in the year ahead.

E-J Scott, Conference Student Bursary Winner 2014

  • E-J Scott, Conference Student Bursary Winner 2014

Gemma Walters, Museum Placement Award 2014 Museum Placement Award

After doing some research last year at The Ulster Folk & Transport Museum for my degree, focusing on traditional embroidery and reticules, I discovered my passion and enjoyment for research and for working with fascinating, historical pieces. I then applied for and was awarded the 2014 Costume Society Bursary.

During my placement, in March and April 2015, I organized the bags and purses collection into categories, which were then catalogued and placed into dedicated storage. I have learnt how to fully document items and write appropriate descriptions, which I then updated into the museum’s collections database. I have also been responsible for all the record photography of this collection for uploading onto this system. My experience with photography and photo editing has been very useful for this. Conducting research, including the use of the museum’s library archives was also part of my assignment to make sure that the collection has detailed and insightful information accessible to all.

I have employed training received in the labeling, packing and handling of museum objects to ensure that the bag and purse collection is stored to the appropriate conservation standards.

I also selected pieces of particular interest for inclusion in a Collections Highlight Tour on the NMNI website.  This involved me packaging the chosen pieces and working with the museum’s professional photographer in getting publication-quality images, which went along side informative descriptions of said pieces. Every few weeks I composed a blog for the UFTM website, giving an update on my bursary placement.

Working with Valerie Wilson, the Curator of Textiles, has been a valuable and insightful experience. I have gained a lot of knowledge and capabilities involved with museum collections and documentation. It has also been a great opportunity to network with people in a field that I am interested in as a career and I was graciously asked to speak at The Lace Guild of Northern Ireland in April 2015 about my own artwork and research at the museum which I conducted in an hour long presentation.

Gemma Walters, Museum Placement Award Winner 2014

2014 Lorraine Hamilton Smith, MA History and Culture of Fashion, London College of Fashion The Yarwood Award

Although it is important to both fashion history and women’s history, the bra is often overlooked or only discussed from a purely aesthetic or erotic perspective. I aimed to address this with my Master’s research. My dissertation looks at the technological developments which led from the subtle uplift of the 1930s to the ego-boosting cleavage of the 1990s, discussing how these developments were used by manufacturers and retailers to sell bras to the consumer.

Although this topic appeared at first to cover well-trodden ground, closer examination of the literature currently on offer indicated otherwise. While there are plenty of books available on the history of lingerie, the vast majority of them are not academic texts and are filled with images but little or no references for the reported facts they include. Some books are dedicated entirely to the bra but there is not much space devoted to anything other than design, and even less coverage of the technological developments which made those designs possible.

The recurring themes which emerged from the lingerie, bra and textiles books I explored indicated that brassiere design and the development of manmade fibres are vastly intertwined and have had an influence on women’s lives that is far greater than that of the majority of other individual garments or technologies. This highlighted a need for a more comprehensive and balanced history of the bra, as remarked upon by Jane Farrell-Beck and Colleen Gau in their book Uplift: The Bra in America. Nothing similar is currently available regarding the history of the bra in the UK.

Receiving the Yarwood Award enabled me to not only arrange trips to two extremely useful archive collections outside London, but it also ensured that I had funds to build a personal collection which would provide further evidence of the developments I had read about. The collection includes British garments which highlight key developments – including new fabrics, construction, printing techniques and support, such as underwiring – and also includes a lingerie catalogue from the late 1970s. This collection has now been donated to the London College of Fashion Archives, allowing it to be used by students and researchers to inform their own work. If you are interested in viewing any of the objects, email archives@fashion.arts.ac.uk to book an appointment.

It was evident from the garments viewed during my research that, although technological advancements have played an extremely important part in the development of the bra since 1930, there have been relatively few new features introduced since the late 1970s. Most of the pattern cutting developments in bra cup construction took place in the decades from 1930s to 1950s, with underwiring and graded cup sizes becoming features of some styles of bra in the UK towards the end of this period. Padding and pre-forming have also been used since the 50s with colourful printed fabrics and adjustable stretch straps, like those on the majority of twenty-first century bras, available from the 1960s. Advances in moulding technology gave bra wearers seam-free cups in the 1970s but, since then, any new developments appear to have merely been improvements to the comfort of styles and features that were already available.

  • Lorraine Hamilton Smith, MA History and Culture of Fashion, London College of Fashion

Hermione Gibbs, University of Glamorgan 2013 The Patterns of Fashion Award

Hermione Gibbs won 2013 Patterns of Fashion Award with her reconstruction of 1660-5 Bodice.

Alistair McArthur (head of Costume for Royal Shakespeare Company) commented:
‘I felt that Hermione had really developed her skills throughout this piece to produce a truly remarkable achievement in hand sewing, construction and concentration. She had been unable to handle or accurately photograph the original and therefore had to discover the correct processes through detective work and by using her own initiative. I was impressed by how she had referenced men’s’ construction during the period. I also loved the fact that she’d done two toiles to make sure she had it right and that, if she were to remake it, she’d keep it in a pillowcase to protect it.
Her accompanying folders displayed ingenuity, care and consistency. The inner corset construction alone was well documented and thorough. I was impressed with her practical approach to her tight budget. Nothing was sacrificed by making the bodice in calico with satin trim. The line was beautiful and I also liked that she hadn’t chosen a ‘pretty’ costume, but one upon which success would rely solely upon her techniques. If you’d placed this inside a glass case, I’m sure it could have passed for an original garment. I felt that she would have had a go at this even if it wasn’t for a competition; just to see if she could do it. For all of these reasons, I felt that she was the winning finalist.’

  • Patterns for Fashion winner 2013 1660-5 Bodice made by Hermione Gibbs
  • Patterns for Fashion winner 2013 1660-5 Bodice made by Hermione Gibbs
  • Patterns for Fashion winner 2013 1660-5 Bodice made by Hermione Gibbs
  • Patterns for Fashion winner 2013 1660-5 Bodice made by Hermione Gibbs

Connie Flynn University of Highlands & Islands, Shetland 2013 The Conference Student Bursary

I am extremely grateful and delighted to be awarded a bursary which was funded by Maney Publishers to attend The Costume Society Symposium on Accessories in Norwich July 2013.
The Symposium was very well organized with a valuable and varied programme including museum visits, many academic papers presented on a wide range of subjects relating to accessories, a chance to see current student’s work and finally an accessary fund raising event. The experience was rich in content.
One of the most valuable aspects of the conference was having the opportunity to hear about some fascinating current research in the field by the enthusiastic speakers, also the chance to speak to others about their work and interests. It is difficult for me to choose one subjects as there were many I found particularly interesting, from Bethan Bide’s talk on ‘The shoes as a Protective Symbol during the London Blitz’ to the ideas on ‘The Shifting Shawl 1800-1914’ by Jenny Lister and Sonia Ashmore, inspirational thoughts on ‘Not forgetting His Perfumed Glove’ by Christine Griffiths to Glenda Haseler’s talk on ‘Opera Cloaks – Functional, Frivolous and Fabulous’ on Wimbledon College of Art’s very own collection, and finally ‘The Changing Forms and Fortune of the Apron’ by Prof Vailja Evalds which provoked different ideas.
It was a treat to have a taster to see and hear about the costume stores at Norwich Castle Museum, especially seeing the beautiful Norwich shawls. This is a subject I hope to develop in my own research. As well as using a variety of concepts in my own Textile practice. I feel the experience has broadened my awareness of the diversity of accessories with regards to function and decorations, fashion and branding.
I enjoyed and appreciated the Student Design Award presentations of excellent contemporary work by local students from Norwich University of the Arts. Their brief was ‘to think differently about accessories’, with the idea of transformation from one accessory to another. This concept was evident in all the presentations. In contrast was the more traditional Pattern of Fashion Award, which was open to students studying costume making. The brief was to reconstruct a garment from Janet Arnold’s a Pattern for Fashion book. Once again the work was excellent and Alistair McArthur Head of Costume at Royal Shakespeare Company had a rather difficult task judging the award.
I am very grateful to the members of the Costume Society committee present who were so welcoming and I hope to be able to participate in further Costume Society events in the future.
Much appreciation goes to Maney Publisher for funding the Bursary.

Elisabeth Gernerd Edinburgh University 2013 The Conference Student Bursary

As a PhD candidate whose research revolves around eighteenth-century underwear and accessories, the theme of the Costume Society’s 2013 annual symposium, ‘Accessories,’ could not have been more timely or relevant to my doctoral work, and as my first Costume Society symposium it was a wonderful introduction and emersion into the depth of knowledge the Society has at its finger tips. My attendance at the symposium was truly made possible thanks to the kind consideration and generosity of the Costume Society and Maney Publishing through the Student Symposium Award.
I am currently in my second year of my doctorate at Edinburgh University, working on my thesis, ‘Tètes to Tails: Eighteenth-Century Underwear and Accessories in Britain and Colonial America.’ Attending the conference was a wonderful pportunity to step back from the intricacies and minutiae of my work to consider the wider themes of a range of accessories spanning the centuries. The continual questioning and probing of what constitutes an accessory and what different types of accessories can signify throughout the conference created an overarching discourse around these often overlooked, but integral necessities of fashion. This inquisitive dialogue was punctuated by fantastic papers, many of which, to my delight, discussed eighteenth-century accessories, for example, Veronica Main’s extensive and lively inquest into the straw hat and Professor Valija Evalds’ investigation of the apron. In addition to fuelling my curiosity to learn the range of current research of scholarship, papers like Christine Griffith’s documentation of the perfumed glove demonstrated a depth of methodological enquiry, questioning the limits of artefacts and text as evidence through a sensory lens, themes that resonatewith my work. The scope of papers simultaneously developed my knowledge of accessories out with my period and specific doctoral interests, while also inspired me both in considering the range of garments one can consider, but also how to extract their narratives. Bethan Bide’s framework of memory and oral history left me wishing the wearers of my garments could be interviewed to tell their stories. Keynote speaker, Professor Giorgio Riello’s provocative inquest of shoes demonstrated the apt ability to stretch a narrative from the popular mythology of Versailles to the concerns of fashion and production of today.
Listening to and engaging with these papers has given me a precious dose of perspective so often lost in the midst of a one’s own research. The symposium also afforded me the opportunity to engage with like-minded dress history compatriots, spanning from fellow ‘budding’ scholars to self-named enthusiasts to founding members of the field of dress history. Everyone was so warm, inquisitive and eager to welcome me into the society. This chance to mix, mingle, discuss and engage was invaluable, especially as I am on the threshold of my career and entrance into this diverse field. It was great to meet and make connections with people both for future research endeavours, local and abroad, but also to enjoy genuine conversations with such a range people who hold such a breadth of knowledge and interests.
I am so grateful for the Costume Society for affording me such a thought-provoking and plentiful three days of research, networking and costume-related enjoyment. I hope to become an active member of the society in the years to come, but as a first taste, ‘Accessories’ fit like, dare I say it, a perfumed glove.

Elisabeth Gernerd Edinburgh University 2013

As a PhD candidate whose research revolves around eighteenth-century underwear and accessories, the theme of the Costume Society’s 2013 annual symposium, ‘Accessories,’ could not have been more timely or relevant to my doctoral work, and as my first Costume Society symposium it was a wonderful introduction and emersion into the depth of knowledge the Society has at its finger tips. My attendance at the symposium was truly made possible thanks to the kind consideration and generosity of the Costume Society and Maney Publishing through the Student Symposium Award.
I am currently in my second year of my doctorate at Edinburgh University, working on my thesis, ‘Tètes to Tails: Eighteenth-Century Underwear and Accessories in Britain and Colonial America.’ Attending the conference was a wonderful pportunity to step back from the intricacies and minutiae of my work to consider the wider themes of a range of accessories spanning the centuries. The continual questioning and probing of what constitutes an accessory and what different types of accessories can signify throughout the conference created an overarching discourse around these often overlooked, but integral necessities of fashion. This inquisitive dialogue was punctuated by fantastic papers, many of which, to my delight, discussed eighteenth-century accessories, for example, Veronica Main’s extensive and lively inquest into the straw hat and Professor Valija Evalds’ investigation of the apron. In addition to fuelling my curiosity to learn the range of current research of scholarship, papers like Christine Griffith’s documentation of the perfumed glove demonstrated a depth of methodological enquiry, questioning the limits of artefacts and text as evidence through a sensory lens, themes that resonatewith my work. The scope of papers simultaneously developed my knowledge of accessories out with my period and specific doctoral interests, while also inspired me both in considering the range of garments one can consider, but also how to extract their narratives. Bethan Bide’s framework of memory and oral history left me wishing the wearers of my garments could be interviewed to tell their stories. Keynote speaker, Professor Giorgio Riello’s provocative inquest of shoes demonstrated the apt ability to stretch a narrative from the popular mythology of Versailles to the concerns of fashion and production of today.
Listening to and engaging with these papers has given me a precious dose of perspective so often lost in the midst of a one’s own research. The symposium also afforded me the opportunity to engage with like-minded dress history compatriots, spanning from fellow ‘budding’ scholars to self-named enthusiasts to founding members of the field of dress history. Everyone was so warm, inquisitive and eager to welcome me into the society. This chance to mix, mingle, discuss and engage was invaluable, especially as I am on the threshold of my career and entrance into this diverse field. It was great to meet and make connections with people both for future research endeavours, local and abroad, but also to enjoy genuine conversations with such a range people who hold such a breadth of knowledge and interests.
I am so grateful for the Costume Society for affording me such a thought-provoking and plentiful three days of research, networking and costume-related enjoyment. I hope to become an active member of the society in the years to come, but as a first taste, ‘Accessories’ fit like, dare I say it, a perfumed glove.

2012 Tatiana Delany, MA History & Culture of Fashion, London College of Fashion The Yarwood Award

Summary of resesearch proposal

My research topic is a focused investigation of Harris Tweed. With the support of the Yarwood Award, I am able to visit the Outer Hebrides this summer, where Harris Tweed is produced, to see the manufacturing, weaving and finishing of the cloth first-hand, visit archives, exhibitions and carry out interviews.

This primary research will contribute to my MA dissertation, which has the working title: 'Nostalgia masquerading as Modernity: Innovation and Tradition, the use of Harris Tweed in the fashion industry'. Using material culture object-based analysis and literary analysis, I will be examining the relationship between visual, material and narrative forms at the heart of the mythologizing and romanticising of Harris Tweed. I am to investigate the intriguing interplay between past, present and future created through the fashion industry's continuous quest for novelty and simultaneous appropriation of traditional craft and textiles.

This research will contribute to a little explored, but extremely topical area of British textile history and the fashion industry. 2012 saw the highest level of Harris Tweed cloth production in almost twenty years with continuing support from designers such as Vivienne Westwood and Margaret Howell and also increasing use by the British High Street. I hope that in examining the importance and relevance of craftsmanship at the heart of the fashion industry this research will contribute to wider discourses on sustainability and the future of 'Made in Britain' textiles in the fashion industry.

  • Harris Tweed label on 1970s trousers at Museum of London
  • Harris Tweed trousers (Museum of London 85.152/45)

Georgina Sheward, Museum Placement Award 2012 Museum Placement Award

I was fortunate enough to be granted the Museum Placement Award by the Costume Society. I spent my summer working with the staff at the Burrell collection.

One half of my placement was spent working with Rebecca Quinton, curator of the European Costume collection, helping to re-pack and catalogue numerous dresses. With over 300 dresses in just one storage room, there was no lack of amazing objects to uncover. The work that I was required to do helped me to understand the effort that is put in to ensure that these dresses are stored correctly for future study. Cataloguing the objects has helped me learn the intricate details that separate the changing fashions in 19th century clothing and has given me a better understanding of the work involved.

The other half of my placement was spent with the conservators. This work involved mounting objects on specially made mannequins, creating underclothing to support the dresses and taking patterns to better understand how the dresses fitted together or to assess if they had undergone some remodelling in their past. I then went on to help mount mannequins that were to go on display in the Kelvingrove museum, seeing the processes which they have to go through to ensure they will be in as good a condition as they went in, coming out.

This placement has been an ongoing education that has added to the course at Glasgow University and has helped me to focus on a career in dress and textiles.

  • Georgina Sheward packing dresses at Glasgow Museums

Jade Halbert, University of Glasgow 2012 The Conference Student Bursary

I was delighted to be awarded a bursary from The Costume Society in association with Maney Publishing to attend this year’s symposium, The Making of a Monarchy for the Modern World, hosted by Historic Royal Palaces at Kensington Palace.

I’m mid way through my Mlitt in Dress and Textile Histories at The University of Glasgow, focusing my research on the court dressmakers of London in the early part of the twentieth century. The opportunity to attend a confrence with so many dress and costume strands was incredibly valuable to my research - where better to learn so much about how monarchy presents itself through image and dress?

Every panel I attended was superb; I was especially impressed with Clair Hughes’ Uneasy heads: hats and monarchs, Dr Philip Mansel’s From George IV to George VI: the rise and fall of civil uniform and Caroline de Guitaut’s Queen Mary and the royal jewels, all of which provoked new thoughts and leads for my own research. Professor Emeritus Alieen Ribeiro’s plenary lecture, Clothing monarchy, fashioning royalty was also a highlight, and an absolute treat for me as a dress historian.

It was fascinating to be able to tour the dress stores within the palace. Seeing such a wonderful collection of so many instantly recognisable royal garments and accessories really made clear to me the enduring importance of dress and etiquette to the royal image.

One of the most valuable and enjoyable aspects of the conference was the chance to speak to others about their work, and to discuss mutual academic interests. The speakers and other delegates made up a rich, diverse group of academics and historians all working in different fields, so it was an exceptional environment in which to learn.

I am indebted to the many members of The Costume Society who made me feel so at ease and encouraged me throughout the three days. I would especially like to thank my fellow bursary winner, Serena Dyer of The University of York, Liz Booty, Chris Godfrey, Sylvia Ayton and Penelope Ruddock. Their genuine interest and support was so welcome and I’m sure my research will be greatly enriched by their input.

 

 

Serena Dyer, University of York 2012 The Conference Student Bursary

My current research focuses on the experience of purchasing clothing for elite and aristocratic women in the eighteenth century, and the ‘Making of a Monarchy for the Modern World’ conference provided me with the ideal opportunity to be exposed to the wealth of background information which is necessary to contextualise this study. Attending this conference would have been impossible for me without the bursary, and I am extremely grateful to the Costume Society and to Maney publishing for making my attendance viable.

Although I generally attended the strand of the conference which focussed on dress history and material culture, I found the opportunity to hear such a variety of speakers talk about their research really broadened my contextual awareness. In relation to my own research, I found Corinne Thépaut-Cabasset’s paper particularly interesting, as it brought to my attention a network and method of fashion exchange which had previously been unknown to me. The panel who spoke about the Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection was also fascinating, and has left me eager to continue my research to answer some of the questions raised. Many of the papers also related to my wider interests in history and in dress history, and to the topic of my PhD, a study of the afterlife of eighteenth century garments, which I will be commencing in October.

Not only did the conference provide me with the opportunity to hear about some fascinating current research in the field, it also enabled me to meet numerous people both within dress history circles and beyond. I am very grateful to the members of the Costume Society committee present who were so welcoming and encouraging, and I hope to be able to participate in further Costume Society events in the future.

Emma Wilson is awarded 2012 Patterns of Fashion The Patterns of Fashion Award

The four finalists for the 2012 Patterns of Fashion Awards came to Bath on 7 July.

Caroline Hall from the Arts University College at Bournemouth: Day dress with detachable gilet and evening bodice C1870/1

Emma Wilson from Coleg Morgannwg, Cardiff: Wedding dress C1827-9

Rhiannon Gillick from Coleg Morgannwg, Cardiff: Polonaise C1770-80

Kate Lyons from Coleg Morgannwg, Cardiff: Morning dress C1837-41

The winner was Emma Wilson from Coleg Morgannwg, Cardiff. Emma chose to recreate a c1827-29 ivory silk brocade wedding dress having studied the original that is held in the Gloucester Museum collection. Her background research into the period along with the care, with which she sourced her materials before lovingly recreating the dress assisted her to create such a successful outcome. It was her first experience of hand stitching a complete garment and she felt she soon perfected the technique. It required a great attention to the complex decorative details that she handled beautifully.  

Louise Taylor, Wimbledon College of Art 2011 The Patterns of Fashion Award

Louise was declared the winner with her exquisite reproduction of a 1770s brocade gown with quilted petticoat.  The original garment is in The Gallery of English Costume dated 1770-1780. The polonaise is ivory silk with soft green stripes and a brocaded pattern of roses in pink and purple with deep green leaves.

Sourcing a suitable fabric had been one of the most difficult aspects to begin with. The polonaise was worn over an ivory satin quilted petticoat made of one layer of satin backed with wadding and lined with lightweight wool fabric and the judges commended Louise on her quilting skills.

  • Louise Taylor's Reproduction
  • Louise Taylor
  • Louise Taylor's Reproduction

2011 Veronica Contreras, MA History of Design and Material Culture, University of Brighton The Yarwood Award

When I started researching the Louis Vuitton wardrobe trunk, my experience and contemporary perspective influenced my initial ideas. I focused on departure and arrival and thought of luggage as something stored away from the owner during travel. Reading contemporary literature and newspapers, I soon realised that in the second half of the 19th and early 20th century, transit between one place and another was equally important. Transatlantic travel could take from six to ten days and the architecture of ocean liners reproduced society’s structure. Being on a ship was no excuse for a relaxation of etiquette; members of the upper class had to be properly dressed at all time, which could mean three or more changes during the day. Consequently, a complete set of clothes and accessories was kept close at hand during the journey. The wardrobe trunk was usually regarded as “hand luggage” as shown by the labels on its exterior surfaces.

In its functional and aesthetic dimensions, the object reconciles different identities and references to travel and home. The trunk stands for Louis Vuitton but also for the owner’s identity and status and thereby for the social class both belong to. Their identities are materially embodied in the object’s inside and outside. The quality of the materials used, the engraved parts, the ornamented surfaces and the customization of the interior arrangement are some examples.

A third aspect that appeared during research was the relationship between Vuitton’s trunks and fashion. Louis Vuitton opened his first shop only one block away from Worth’s couture house; the father of Haute Couture was both a friend and customer. In time, the name Louis Vuitton became a brand, synonymous with luxury travel. Vuitton was associated first with royalty and then with celebrity, obtaining high visibility and an elite position in the market. Vuitton’s trunks provided a system for transporting fashion to any place in safe conditions and allowed the owner to effortlessly travel in style.

It was important for my research to visit the exhibition of the most remarkable Vuitton trunks in Paris and to understand the family of products and the brand’s values of which the wardrobe trunk is one part. I also had to access auction houses and antique dealers to look at trunks that had been used and had information about their owners, liner’s companies and destinations. I am deeply grateful to the Costume Society as the Doreen Yarwood Award made it possible for me to undertake these activities. I very much enjoyed the research process and constructing and deconstructing conclusions. I believe my work is not finished. There were many possible ways in which to approach the object and I could only choose some of them. To conclude, I would like to say that it is fascinating how objects and people affect, relate and explain each other and how societies are revealed through the material world that has survived them.

  • Label on Louis Vuitton trunk

Kirsty Hassard, Museum Placement Award 2011 Museum Placement Award

Kirsty reported back for the newsletter:

I am a Museum and Gallery Studies student at the University of St Andrews, and I have been working at the McManus, Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum, cataloguing embroidery and quilting in its costume collection.

I had had a student placement at the museum as part of my course since October 2010, and had really enjoyed working there, so the Costume Society placement was a wonderful opportunity to continue my work.

This placement reinforced the skills which I had previously developed, and enabled me to develop new ones. I worked on the collection between June and August 2011, cataloguing and digitising 502 objects. I was tasked with compiling information on the objects, transferring information from catalogue cards and object history files, and transferring them to Adlib. I photographed every object, and carried out object condition reports. This information was then inputted as a Collections Online record, which will be uploaded on to the museum’s online database. From the information that I gained from the collection, I developed ideas to make it more accessible, such potential physical output, volunteer projects, and educational activities.

One of the most rewarding aspects of the project was the knowledge that such a wonderful collection would become better known. It covers an amazing variety of items, ranging from tiny lotus shoes, worn by Chinese women whose feet were bound, to full military regalia. It covers every type of clothing: children’s wear, dresses, coats, bags, scarves (including one worn by its owner at the coronation of Queen Victoria), fans, military uniform, underwear, nightwear, jackets and hats. It ranged from the decorative to the occupational and utilitarian.

It has a wide geographical spread too: including costume from China and Japan, featuring amazingly intricate embroidery, and wonderful use of silks. There is also a collection of clothing from the historic region of Bukovina, now divided between present day Romania and Ukraine.  I had never heard of it before I came across it in the object record, and I think this collection must have amazing historic significance.

I really enjoyed the research aspect of the placement, and it was fascinating to gain an insight into the history and development of costume. I could apply my research to the items of costume that I was looking at, so I was able to see how fashions changed, particularly between the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

I definitely developed some favourite objects whilst documenting the collection. My background in eighteenth century history has probably influenced my favourite object in the collection so far: a polonaise-style dress from the 1780s.

Thank you for giving me such a wonderful experience working on an amazing collection, in an equally amazing museum. I have learned an incredible amount, and I am sure that it will be extremely valuable in my future career.

  • Kirsty Hassard with embroidered Chinese Lotus shoe

Frances Campbell, Arts University College at Bournemouth 2010 The Patterns of Fashion Award

The recreation of the c1913-14 afternoon dress as worn by Miss Heather Firbank, held in the V & A’s collection, was superbly recreated by Frances. He put great efforts into his research and sourcing of materials for this dress.  The judge, Jenny Tiramani felt it had been created against a background of very thorough research into the period and with great accuracy, attention to detail and excellent workmanship. The finished dress was beautiful.

  • Afternoon Dress Circa 1913/4
  • Afternoon Dress Circa 1913/4

Sarah Woodington, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama 2009 The Patterns of Fashion Award

Sarah chose to make a c1818-23 deep blue pelisse recreating the original that is held in the Gloucester Museum collection. She showed great fortitude when making this dress  because it required many, many yards of piping. She recounted standing at bus stops, at parties and in pubs with a roll of it under her arm hand stitching all the while!

The original had been painstakingly studied and the period thoroughly researched before embarking on its recreation. She managed to source appropriate fabrics and proceeded to hand sew it with lovely, regular stitching. It was a very accurate recreation and the end result was beautiful.

Josephine Thomas, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama 2008 The Patterns of Fashion Award

Josephine Thomas' beautiful doublet is a recreation of the doublet held in the V & A museum collection. Josie had gone to extremes when recreating this and had had to learn how to make the buttons as well as all the other construction details. It had many hidden layers, all correctly handled,  canvases, wadding and layers of silk. A worthy winner of the Award.

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