Sunday 5 February 2017

Lace in Fashion – exhibition review

The 1580s smock in the first case
On Friday night I was lucky enough to go to a reception for the Bath Fashion Museum’s new exhibition Lace in Fashion. The exhibition will be open from 4th February 2017 to 1st January 2018, and on the first day of the exhibition I heard a fascinating talk by its curator, Elly Summers, about how the exhibition came about and the thinking behind it.

In April 2014 the Museum was given a grant by Arts Council England, to help catalogue its large lace collection. Fifty trays of lace, some with very little information, were sorted with the help of several people from the Lace Guild. Around 4000 items were examined. The majority received a very basic catalogue entry, but 400 exceptional pieces were catalogued in depth and photographed. These photographs will be made available via the Bridgman Art Library . While it was possible to photograph some lace flat, others were photographed over mannequins that were mocked up in black to the basic period outline.
The 1860s wedding veil

The exhibition itself takes up the large central area of the museum. The earliest item on display is a 1580s smock with plaited lace insertion down the sides of the sleeves.  Please note that my photographs were taken in low light in a very crowded exhibition, you really need to go to see the items for yourself. The most recent item in the exhibition is a 2016 laser printed dress,  which was bought online for £1.

The 1805 bobbin lace dress
Among the highlights for me were, the stunning 1660s silver tissue dress with parchment lace, the 1860s cream silk wedding veil that is a mixed of bobbin and needle lace applied to a machine net, the 1805 bobbin lace dress that may once have belonged to Queen Charlotte, there was an article about this in the Guardian, and I suppose if I have to chose something modern the red lace dress worn by Dame Helen Mirren.

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