Usually when I write a blog post about a costume exhibition, it's one that I've visited. This jacket, however, is from an exhibition that's far, far away, and one that, alas, I won't be able to see in person.
Currently taking place at Berrington Hall, Herefordshire, "A Thousand Fancies" is a very small exhibition of Georgian clothing. Only a handful of pieces are included, but if the exhibition's blog is any indication, every one of them is amazing. The clothes come from the famous collection of wealthy eccentric Charles Paget Wade (1883-1956). A poet, architect, artist-craftsman, Wade was also an omnivorous collector, gathering old things that pleased him rather for following any system or plan. (Uncharitable folks today might call it "hoarding".) Whatever his reasons, his collection of 18th-19th c. clothing is stunning for both its beauty, and for the remarkable condition of many of the pieces.
This jacket with flaring skirts and exaggerated cuffs is a perfect example. Fashioned of silk brocade that has been dated to 1736-40, the color (described as "begonia French pink") is a knockout, and so is the elaborate floral design. Too often the past as imagined in faded, dusty colors: this jacket proves how bright and vibrant stylish clothes of the 18th c. could be.
While the jacket is displayed here for the photographer and not how it was originally worn - there would have been a triangular piece called a stomacher to fill in the gap between the fronts, and of course there would also have been a petticoat/skirt, shift, sleeve flounces, and a kerchief to fill into the wide neckline - it's still easy to imagine the impact a lady would have had wearing this. Talk about making an entrance!
For more pictures and information about the exhibition, see their blog here. And if any of you are fortunate enough to visit Berrington Hall to see this show, I'd love to hear your reactions.
Above: Woman's jacket, silk, 1736-40. Charles Paget Wade Collection, Berrington Hall. All photos courtesy of Berrington Hall.
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.