Thursday, 28 January 2010

Fashion Forensics ©

It has long been an ambition of Ginis' to let others see what she is privileged to investigate. In her work, a lot of access is granted to 'touch and handle' extant garments in the archives of museums and it does seem a shame not to let others see them.  If people are lucky enough to see these they are usually in glossy 'coffee table' books with maybe two pictures! Museums unfortunately are working with limited display space and only a few of pieces in a collection are ever on view to the public at one time. The Kyoto Institute is a good example where they have about 60,000 photographs of their collection and have produced wonderful books of what some of our friends call 'frock porn'(!). If you ever go there you will find about half a dozen outfits on display - the rest are 'in the archive'! The V.&A. Museum are at the moment trying to close down the musical instrument section to give more room to the textile collection, which does seem a bit like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. (Gets off high horse - and back to the subject)!
We have an idea of making videos of some of the initial inspections, which will show the materials, structure, construction, previous conservation, alterations - almost the C.S.I of clothing!
They will be of  interesting pieces in the lesser known collections. Did you know that Bassetlaw Museum has about 5,000 costume pieces, for instance?  In the meantime, we have a web album of the one one the left A victorian ensemble of 1872. The staff and indeed, the public were fascinated at the detail that came out.  I'll try and put the captions up very soon - when the phone stops ringing!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

The Music Lesson

Well, A Happy New Year to you all!  I hope all our British & European readers aren't suffering too much in the truly awful weather conditions. We actually didn't get stuck in the snow,  but our car had a little problem and refused to start.
It took our Automobile Association, 6 days to get it sorted! ( I would have written A.A. there but that would look like we had a different problem! -"My name is Tony and I haven't had car trouble for six months"!) Anyway, the snow stopped customers getting to us, suppliers delivering to us and us delivering to customers, which caused a few headaches.

A break in the weather did give Gini a chance to get to Birmingham Museum to deliver and set up the display shown on the left, which is a copy of the ensemble shown in the painting "The Music Lesson" by Jacob Ochtervelt (1634-1682). Both gown and painting are on show at Birmingham Museum  & Art Gallery. 

Deeper analysis of this portrait raised some questions about the bodice/jacket and its construction - particularly the back. Looking at other portraits by Ochtervelt and his contemporaries, working in the low countries at this time period and examining other extant garments, did not resolve the questions and it may be that either the jacket/bodice is somewhat anomalous, or that we have discovered a style for the period previously unrecorded. With only one painting pointing towards this style of bodice back we still cannot be sure.