Monday, 18 November 2013

Fabulous Fashion

It is weeks, if not months since I last had a day out in London and then last week I went in twice.
On Monday I had a day at the V & A with my friend Jude to catch a couple of their latest exhibitions. First of all we saw "Pearls" which not only had a stunning display of over 200 exquisite jewels but also gave an insight into the history of pearls and pearl fishing. I'm sure that I'm not alone in always believing that a pearl forms around a grain of sand in the oyster shell... but that never actually happens. It is a small worm or parasite entering the shell that causes a pearl to form. It was a lovely exhibition but a little disappointing in that whilst I can accept that there is no photography there is also no drawing allowed either. This meant that I have no image of some of my favourite pieces and I wasn't prepared to buy the book!

After lunch we had a whizz around the "Club to Catwalk" (which runs until February). My own memory of fashion in the 1980's is pretty much limited to maternity clothes and track suits as three of my boys were born from 1982 to 1989 so fashion was not really a priority but it was great fun to see some of the outlandish club fashions that were around at the time... and to realise that customising or altering clothes is not a new fad.
Then on Wednesday Gill and I were back in London to the Fashion and Textile museum to see the latest exhibition on show "The Glamour of Belville Sassoon"
Although it is only a small museum I have never yet seen a disappointing exhibition here. The staging is always excellent, reminiscent of theatre sets. To be truthful most of the dresses were not to my taste, but that didn't matter. We joined a guided tour which I can thoroughly recommend, and even though we may not have liked all the dresses, it was fascinating to hear their history and who they were made for.

There were one or two I really loved, such as this pastel rose covered gown.

And others that I thought were revolting, like this light brown taffeta number.

But the workmanship and detail were wonderful...

especially the gorgeous embroidery... which we could photograph or draw to our heart's content!

The red dress is one that is made up from one of the Belville Sassoon Vogue patterns (not a Very Easy pattern!) and I remembered that I bought a Belville Sassoon pattern many years ago but it never ever got made into a dress.

Perhaps the highlight of the exhibition was an entire room full of the most amazing fashion drawings dating from the 1960s and 1970s...

right through every decade...

to the current one.

And my conclusion after two fabulous days out is that it is still fashion and costume that excites me the most about textiles and given the choice I would be working in those fields not teaching machine embroidery techniques! Ah well... I can dream!  Good job I still quite enjoy machine embroidery too I suppose.


  1. They look amazing exhibitions, I really can't see why you can't draw!!
    I love all things '80's, so would love to see that!
    When my daughter was doing her fashion degree, the thing I loved the most about the end of year shows was the fashion drawings. :)
    V xxx

  2. I can accept and understand some galleries and museums wanting no photography - but no drawing? What are students supposed to do?
    Those dresses are gorgeous but I find that some of today's fashions are just bizarre. Perhaps if you had your dream and were designing them I would appreciate them more!

  3. The picture of the pearl necklace is bizzare, pearls are smooth and comforting but that looks like a cactus.

  4. Yes I think I missed my way too - I always think I would love to have worked in the BBC costume dept. We can but dream! x Jo

  5. Not draw in an exhibition at the V & A???? WHAT ARE the V & A thinking?????


    I see what you mean about the lampshade/ brown taffeta dress -

    Must get myself into London!

  6. I keep thinking about going to the Belville Sassoon exhibition and you've really wetted my appetite now.
    How silly of the V and A not to allow drawing - what is the world coming to!

  7. I too thought it was a grain of sand that caused the pearl to form, so it's a bit disappointing to discover it is a worm!! The exhibitions sound wonderful.

  8. No drawing? Silly red tape!
    I have a thing for fashion drawings, they can whisk you away to a wonderful imaginary world.

  9. Gina, now I am even more sorry that I couldn't quite get organized enough to get to see you on my recent holiday.

    I did not see the Pearls show at the V&A, mainly because I just had a premonition that it would not be that inspiring to me own personal visual sense.

    However, I really did enjoy the 1980's fashion show. The styles from that time coincided with a decade when I first began to regularly visit London and look at British fashion magazines. I loved the exhibit, the videos, the music, and the examples of clothes both from designers and from folks who just made their own outfits. There was so much spirit in those displays.

    It was funny to see 20-somethings seeing the show along with me. They truly seemed to like what they were seeing as much as I did.

    Sorry not to have been the Belville Sassoon show. Next time I do get over to London, rest assured that I will be giving you prior notice. It will be grand to actually chat about all the interests that we share.


  10. What a wonderful post, but I was concerned to read that the V&A, my fav museum made the choice to not allow sketching at an exhibition, why on earth not?
    I loved the fashion sketches and feel a bit as you do that my real love is still in fashion. Thank you so much for sharing your days out.

  11. Gina, I have a marvellous old book called Fashion Drawing by Francis Marshall. Very 1950's and I tihnk you'd love it. If you want to borrow let me know. Those last few lines are so wistful - why can't you follow that dream? Lovely to be reminded of the 80's although my recollections are swamped with memories of large hair and shoulder pads with everything!

  12. I too spent quite a bit of my 80s in maternity clothes, well the later half. The first bit, I was a poor student in Uni. We must have some similar tastes, I love that pastel rose gown.

  13. what a gorgeous post. So much to read and look at. I love any kind of fashion/costume shows. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Oh that sounds silly that you are not allowed to sketch at the exhibition - but I guess they make more money selling the books!
    Sounds like you had two great days out - it is nice to dream - but sometimes life takes different turns - your machine embroidery is fabulous and we all love you teaching it.

  15. Very interesting Gina. Too bad you couldn't draw -- that seems like a weird rule to me. What are they afraid of? Some of those dresses are beautiful. I like the little blue number! ;-D

  16. I was planning on going to the Belville Sasoon exhibition but will definitely try and book on a tour too.

    I've seen the 'no drawing rule' at the V&A before. I wonder whether they have had problems with lots of people, students perhaps, sitting drawing and blocking the exhibition? I might just ask them when I go next.

  17. Thanks for the reminder about Belville Sassoon, I'd completely forgotten it was on. I have a lovely silk blouse of theirs stashed away somewhere - wouldn't fit me now, but I hope the moths haven't got it!

  18. How strange, I can understand no photos, but no drawings? Interesting what you say about a career in costume or fashion - we've seen a couple of NT Shakespeare productions recently, and every time I've been blown away by the costumes, and wondered why it never occurred to me that you could work in theatre or film without having to be an actor. Doh! I enjoy the machine embroidery teaching too, I just wish it was financially more rewarding! There must be a way...

  19. I have been reading your blog about the textile course you were doing which was suddenly cancelled. What are you doing now? I am curious because I am also doing a search to find a textile course I could do through distance learning. Love your blog by the way - :-)


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