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In the latter part of 2017 Brighton Historical Society was thrilled to receive a Local History Grant from the Public Records Office Victoria. The project is to catalogue a substantial selection of the most important pieces of its costume collection onto Museums Victoria’s Victorian Collections data base. Laura Jocic and I are honoured and excited to get stuck in, research, record and share these valuable snippets of our history. Passionate about the social history of clothing, I hope you enjoy our work.
After each session I thought I’d offer a little taster of our activities in the way of a reoccurring theme or interesting discovery. Click on the image to be taken to the item on Victoria Collections website.
This weeks theme is Frippery.
The lustre on this oyster coloured silk is so beautiful, and the delicate ruching, pleats and lace create a sweet parfait of elegance. It’s owner was an early member of well known Melbourne Jewish family who also lived in a notable historic house, now a prominent art gallery.
This beautiful hand made lace somehow evocative of spiders webs or timber wheels, both which would have been prevalent at the time of its making. Queen Victoria popularised the wearing of white for bridal gowns upon her marriage to Prince Albert in 1840 but the wearing of the lightest of colours was a definite statement of wealth. Laundering of clothing was labour intensive and difficult and so a pure white garment had limited re use.This colour is infinitely more sensible for the dirt and grime it would encounter in it’s lifetime, beyond the wedding day as was common for bridal gowns to be reused for ‘good’.
A lovely woollen four piece wedding gown comprising of bodice, belt, skirt and train. Despite numerous decorative details with fringed ribbons, beading, ruching, lace and bows it remains a very elegant and understated ensemble thanks to its use of a beautiful quality matte wool, matte silks and quartz like beads. A lovely example of texture, and layering of delicate detailing.
A definite favourite of mine for the sheer charm of it. Fancy dress parties were a popular pastime and the “Dolly Varden” style was very popular amongst young women. This ensemble was worn on several occasions including to a Lord Mayor’s ball, possibly on board a ship bound for China…
Dolly Varden was a popular character from Charles Dickens novel “Barnaby Rudge” published in 1841 and inspired a craze of Dolly Varden inspired culture.
As yet we don’t know if there is any significance to the use of lace featuring a Maltese Cross in the design. It might have been a treasure from the travels of the owner’s family. It inspires romantic notions of exotic travel to China, and Europe with fancy dress ball’s enroute in the relative innocence of pre World War One.
Till next time…
Ripponlea and Barwon Park have hosted some stunning frocks in their time. This new exhibition by The National Trust, Night Life – A fashion exhibition of the 1920’s and 1930’s is no exception. A recent bequest of gowns inspired this curation exploring the decadent, ground breaking, jubilant styles of the 1920s and the more sober, practical conservatism of the 1930’s. The post war and interwar periods saw an enormous amount of change in social customs and economic conditions, and clothing is always an incredible barometer of the whole picture of society at a certain place and time.
Many early 1920’s evening dress features amazing, intricate beadwork with new and exotic materials such as celluloid and gelatine. Celluloid sequins offered the clothed experience a luminosity, sparkle and sound that reflected well the excitement, excess and prosperity of the time. Some dresses featured approximately 2 kg of embellishment carefully stitched to feather light silks and cotton tulle. With the thrashing of exuberant jazz dance moves such as the Charleston in hot sweaty smoky nightclubs it is no wonder that many dresses have not withstood the test of time. It is a joy and a pleasure to be able to see such well preserved precious examples as these.
As we moved into the 1930’s with the occurrence of The Great Depression and Wall street crash of 1929 as well as ominous political events in Europe, sequins, and beads were abandoned in favour of printed, painted and more restrained styles, more practical in design, less boyish, re-embracing the female form.
Designs also reflect the influence of world events such as the discoveries by Howard Carter in Egypt and the ensuing popularity of Egyptian inspired motifs. Keep an eye out for them. My favourites are the camels. Can you spot them?
If you are an avid student of fashion you will appreciate curator Elizabeth Anya-Petrivna’s informative presentation both in the exhibition and the catalogue. I personally enjoy the notes taken from media of the day and insights into the lives of the owners of these clothes.
It makes me smile to think of what Barbara Wilson Milne’s father thought of her dress and dancing antics.
I am always struck by the wearability of these periods despite their difference. There are always elements that seem very contemporary. I was struck by the the simple, graphic beauty of this black, white and blue printed silk lining a simple black evening coat and the familiarity of the cloud shaped beading on a simple black dress.
As I walk around the exhibition I can’t help but think of the many young women who would have spent hours stitching these intricate items with tiny tiny beads and sequins, and that is not even thinking about the tiny bits of tin so carefully wrapped onto mesh to create the Egyptian wrap! I have recently finished reading Fashion Victims and I can’t help but feel for their hunched shoulders, and strained eyes. I only hope that some of them had such slender hands and elongated fingers as those on the wearer of these gloves!
Art Deco influences are everywhere in beading and embroidery. This beaded shoulder detail struck me as quite unusual.
The richness of well lit black in velvet, lace, silhouette and some inspired lighting effects.
Shimmer and sparkle in celluloid, tin and gelatine. Just keep away from a naked flame as celluloid is highly flammable! It always make me smile when I think of all these women resplendent in celluloid and the connection with the importance and influence of the film era at this time. Women were watching and wearing the same material.
Floral motifs are ever popular but it interesting to observe the differences in the representation. Here you see them beaded in the 1920’s, painted and printed in the 30’s.
Embroidery and Asian influences in the 1920’s. These Chinese shawls were a popular choice to the warm exposed shoulders with flapper girls against chill.
A visual feast, informative and a lovely day out in the gardens of Ripponlea.
But did you find the camels? Here they are, plus some Egyptian figures! Thanks to Erica Louise of recycled-fashion for her sharp eyes in spotting them and most of all for taking me as her “plus one”. Thanks also to the National Trust for another most enjoyable event.
Fashion Revolution Week 2017 April 24th – 30th #whomademyclothes campaign in memory of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse on April 24th 2013. An estimated 1138 people died and many more were injured. Fashion Revolution asks for people to participate in many ways. One of which is by telling a love story to an item of clothing in your wardrobe. I told three. This is my love story….
For further information go to www.fashionrevolution.org and get involved in changing our fashion future..
Did you ever do these doodles in secondary school? I did. I’d fill a whole page with line upon line upon line. As soon as I saw these shoes, I thought oooooooooooo they need some line doodling!
So I did, and I am glad.
I love clothing that has personal meaning. I find it rewarding and long lasting. Slow fashion. The way of the future.
This lovely simple brooch was inherited from my late grand mother a few years ago. She was a woman of modest means but she loved to dress up when an occasion presented itself. Whilst this is a modest 1950’s piece I find it rather charming. When I received it was missing one diamanté with several more following in rapid succession. Hence it has been sitting in my mending box for many years. I recently have been working through my collection restoring and repairing pieces. The hardest thing about this job was sourcing the correct size Swarovski crystal is appropriate numbers. I am pleased with it, and am now looking for the right time to wear it. I do love vintage jewellery!