Saturday, September 6, 2014

At the Manchester Art Gallery

Most historic costumers have heard about the Manchester Art Gallery.  The museum has a whole building dedicated to their historic costume collection.  And from what I understand, it's extensive, though the dedicated building really isn't.  But this post isn't on the Platt Hall of Costume (I'll get there later), it's on the Art Gallery proper.

While I was in Manchester, the Art Gallery had on display a collection of garments from the British Cotton Board, whose job it was to promote cotton in all industries, including fashion.  The garments on display were really interesting, though they were all from the early 1950's which isn't my era. These dresses were produced as examples only, so they were only worn at the Cotton Board's annual runway show (so once).  The accompanying text pointed out that some of the dresses look great in cotton, and some look like bed sheets. Also, they were sewn for the runway, so they definitely don't have couture finishing techniques and some even had really obvious stitching (to be fair, most looked ready to wear).  As I understand it, the Cotton Board had a hard time convincing the masses to leave their beautiful silk evening dresses behind and start wearing cotton ones instead.

First up, a cotton organdy wedding dress.  Knowing how stiff my organdy petticoat is, I really hope they used the softer version.



This "Cotton Doeskin Summer Dress" from 1953 was probably my favorite.  The sleeve construction is really interesting, and I think they put a pocket in a dart, which is always cool.



At the other end of the spectrum is this "Cotton Poplin Evening Dress" which really does look like bed sheets (it also looks really heavy) and has really obvious stitching.



And the last I'll show is this adorable 1957 summer dress made from "horizontally printed fabric". The photo of the back is out of focus, but it gives you an idea about the back neckline.  I'm guessing this fabric was printed with this specific dress in mind, but I really love how the pleating uses the fabric to its advantage.




I also, of course, explored the rest of the Gallery.  Upstairs I found several paintings of note. Including one of the most ridiculous depictions of armor I have ever seen.  Seriously--he's not actually naked and just painted grey.  I know this because his hands are a normal human color.

The Earl of Warwick's Vow by Henry Tresham (1797)

A typical Regency scene which was apparently mocked in the press.



Possibly my first Tissot (at least my first now that I'm extremely interested in the time period).  And it was AMAZING.  He truly is a wonder at depicting textiles.  Though, does anyone else see the resemblance between the violinist and the woman in front with the fan?

Hush! (also known as The Concert) by James Tissot (1875)




And several beautiful Pre-Raphaelite paintings, which made me long for some of my art history textbooks back in the US.

Hylas and the Nymphs by John William Waterhouse (1896)



Work by Ford Maddox Brown (1852 - 1856)

1 comment:

  1. The cotton doeskin summer dress would look perfect on you!

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