Studying Theatrical Costume and other adventures in London - sewing, fabrics and events.

Tag: Museums and galleries

Class 11: Visit to Victoria and Albert museum

Today the class met at the V&A and explored the British Galleries, textile study room and the theatre and performance collection.

We started by having a cup of tea in the splendid cafe. The cafe rooms interior decoration is amazing, so I would highly recommend taking a break there. The food looks really good, but is more restaurant prices than cafe, so I didn’t have a chance to try.

On to the British galleries. So many wonderful things to look at from James II wedding suit, a flower pyramid, to the most amazing room installations. It was great to be able to inspect the items of clothing on show so closely; but there are also many other artefacts where we could get inspiration for our costumes including the furniture, paintings and textiles. I particularly liked looking at the Spitalfield silk collection, and there were some lovely examples of printed cotton.

Manuta 1740-1745

Spitalfield silks

Spitalfield silks

We tried on a pannier petticoat, tried to tie a cravat, and I designed my own textile. I am planning to make my pocket at some point and upload a picture to the website.

The theatre and performance collection hadn’t changed much since the last time I visited  it at the  beginning of the course, but there is always a new thing you notice when you have a look around.

Unused panel for a man's waistcoat 1790

Unused panel for a man's waistcoat 1790

First day – Theatrical Costume @ Kensington and Chelsea college

As usual, I turned up just in time. The morning had been going so well, but then there was traffic from Earls court to college and I had chosen to take the bus. Anyway it wasn’t too bad and there was still a space for me in between Lorna and Alex.

Claire, our tutor for the year, gave an introduction about the college, the course, and what was expected.  The theatrical costume course at Kensingtion and Chlesea College (KCC) is based on a BTEC in fashion and clothing level 2 certificate, but you also get a certificate from KCC to say it specialises in theatrical costume. Claire gave us a psychometric test, and quite a few hand-outs which contained a list of London fabric shops and museums we were to visit in the afternoon.

In the hand-outs there was information about our first 2 units: developing production techniques (unit 9), where we will make samples to demonstrate our knowledge and skills; and developing pattern construction skills (unit 7), for which we will make undergarments for a polonaise (1770-1785). The course is made up of 4 units (60 hours each), and we will be doing 2 in the first term and then one each term after.

We were also introduced to Eileen who will be teaching us some of the practical parts of the course – samples etc. Eileen showed us log books and portfolios of previous year students. They were very impressive and a lot of work had gone in to the presentation as well as the content.

In the afternoon I paired up with Kate. We walked to the Victoria and Albert museum to look at the fashion and theatre & performance collections as well as getting distracted through the other rooms. Afterwards we walked to the Wallace collection where I discovered Mary Robinson, an actress, writer and poet who lived from 1758 until 1800.

Robe 'Polonaise' 1775-80 at the V&A

Mary Robinson by John Hoppner c 1780

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