The School of Historical Dress houses a collection of textiles, clothes and accessories ranging from the 5th century AD to the modern day from all over the world. While access to these original pieces is provided during the School’s courses and events, it is currently not possible to accommodate further private study. To open up the collection to a wider audience, exhibitions are being organised twice a year. A selection of objects is chosen by colour, and then arranged in thematic ‘stories’. The first exhibition, ‘Our Collection by Colour: No. 1 WHITE’, included displays titled ‘Ruffs’, ‘Muslin’ and ‘New Fashions from Old’. The Summer 2023 exhibition ‘No. 2 BLUE’ opens at the end of July and will focus on zero-, minimum- waste and wasteful use of fabric. ‘No 3. BROWN’, is already planned for December.
These three garments will be on display. The panels of a mantua gown and petticoat c.1720, in blue silk damask. They were un-picked and flattened at a later date for the silk to be re-used. Only the mantua cuffs, and several petticoat panels are missing. The cut of this mantua evolved from those of simpler T-shaped garments which were pleated to fit onto the body. A reconstruction in modern fabric will show how the mantua might have looked like originally.
An uncut 1999 A-POC by Issey Miyake. The ‘A Piece of Cloth’ concept was developed in 1997 to minimize waste. It allowed the client to have a whole ensemble cut directly from a roll of knitted textile, according to the pattern diagram. It comprises a dress, full or short length, gloves that could be worn as long sleeves, socks, a bag, a belt, a wallet, a hat, a top and underpants.
Text by Sébastien Passot