Several blog readers have asked if there will be a book or catalogue published in connection with the Accessories: Head to Toe symposium and exhibition sponsored by Colonial Williamsburg and featured here last week. Sadly, there aren't any publishing plans at this time.
There are, however, two books that feature many of the pieces currently on display. Written by Linda Baumgarten, curator, textiles & costume, Colonial Willamsburg, both books are available in paperback, and include plenty of photographs. Eighteenth Century Clothing at Williamsburgis exactly that: an introduction to the clothing worn by men, women, and children in colonial Virginia. Costume Close-Up: Clothing Construction and Pattern, 1750-1790, goes into more detail, with photographs of fastenings, linings, and embroidery plus line drawings of patterns and construction techniques. These aren't new books, and they do both have b&w photos as well as color, but they're interesting and informative, and as costume books go, they're quite reasonably priced.
Colonial Williamsburg also sponsored a second symposium last week, A Reconstructed Visitable Past. While I was only able to attend a couple of these sessions, I did learn of upcoming books by two of the speakers sure to make the hearts of you hard-core costume/historic dress folks (you know who you are!) beat faster.
Jenny Tiramani, costume & set designer and dress historian, has designed impeccably accurate costumes for Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She was also the last student of the late, legendary costume historian Janet Arnold, and helped complete Janet's last book, Patterns of Fashion 4. In Williamsburg, Ms. Tiramani had a press-proof of her new book (set for publication on 4/1/11),Seventeenth-Century Women's Dress Patterns, which is very much in the same style as the Janet Arnold books with even more pictures and photographs. Instantly on my shopping list as a must-buy.
Another speaker with an intriguing new book is Dr. Lynn Sorge-English, Department of Theatre, Costume Studies, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Corsets and stays are an unending source of interest to those of us fascinated by historic dress, and one of Dr. Sorge-English's achievements was to research and create the master patterns for all the 18th c. replica stays worn by Colonial Williamsburg's female interpreters and employees. After hearing her speak, I can't wait to read her new book, Stays and Body Image in London: The Staymaking Trade, 1680-1810, set for publication this June.
Colonial Williamsburg is also increasing its on-line costume resources. Check out their new Historic Threads page, and if you're looking for something specific or just want to browse, the e-museum has much to offer, too – not only in historic costume, but also furniture, metal work, folk art, painting, prints, and many other 18th c. American and English decorative arts. Several of CW's historic trades also now have their own Facebook pages, filled with information and photographs of current projects. Among them are the Margaret Hunter Shop (milliners & mantua-makers); the Wigmaker & Barber Shop; the Anderson Blacksmith Shop; the James Craig Silversmith Shop; the Shoemakers' Shop; and the Deane Shop (wheelwrights). Admit it: haven't you always wanted to "friend" an 18th c. mantua-maker or blacksmith?
Above: The mantua-makers at work in the Margaret Hunter Shop, Colonial Williamsburg
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.