Thursday, October 23, 2014

Embellishments: Constructing Victorian Detail

Thursday, October 23, 2014
Loretta reports:

Continuing my report on Astrida Schaeffer’s lecture at the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, MA: 

As promised, today we look at Embellishments:  Constructing Victorian Detail, Ms. Schaeffer’s book accompanying what clearly was a marvelous exhibition.  On display were twenty-five garments from the Victorian era, from the Irma Bowen Collection of the University of New Hampshire Museum.

The book helps explain, as described in the first chapter, “The Victorian Aesthetic Mindset.”  This is an aesthetic some some may think of as Wretched Excess or clutter, because it seems so busy to the 21st century eye.

But it reflects a time of burgeoning consumerism, expanded international connections, and the many “technologies, discoveries, and opportunities bursting out of the Industrial Revolution.”  Even without fully understanding the aesthetic, however, we can appreciate the beauty and workmanship of these garments.  This book lets us get up close and personal.

We’re treated not only to close views of design details but instructions for making them as well.  The photographs and illustrations are simply spectacular, and made me wish I had the skills to try recreating some of the adornments.  You can view sample pages here and images from the exhibition here.

Do check out the dashing Art Nouveau coat (back view second from left in first photo, front view at right of fourth and fifth photos).  That's my favorite.  Which garment do you like best?


Astrida Schaeffer said...

Thank you for the great review! And the links, so glad you enjoyed it! If only I could have incorporated the rotating gown into the book itself ;)
(Just a note for any international interest in the book, you can also order directly from the SchaefferArts website for either domestic or international destinations. The Amazon link is domestic only.)


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