I thought I would start off this year (and this blog) with a recap of the new galleries which opened summer 2016 at the National Museum of Scotland on Chamber Street, not all that far away from our shop. For the first time since I lived in Melbourne, Australia, it was wonderful to be able to see in person and locally a beautifully curated museum show on fashion history. I was rather spoilt in Melbourne that V&A shows such as Hollywood Costumes appeared regularly as well as features such as on the work of Edward Steichen (perhaps most famous for the photo of Gloria Swanson with lace over her face) which also showed a huge variety of 1920s & 1930s clothing. It is wonderful to see Edinburgh catching up with a focus on the history of clothing. Something I feel which has not had the attention it deserves; after all, clothing both reflects and influences the social mores and social change of its time. Do you think of the 1960s without thinking of the mini-skirt? Or how about WWII rationing and Dior's 1947 New Look response to it after the end of the war? Clothing is very much woven into our social history.
It is therefore with much anticipation that I had been awaiting the opening of these new galleries and I'm pleased to say I was not disappointed. The galleries cover a wide range of history from 18th century court dresses such as the one below right up to the current day and use of innovative new materials.
What do you think of these amazing novelty print blouse and headscarf by Bianca Mosca for Jacqmar? They look so contemporary don't they? But they actually date from 1942 and depict wartime slogans in Britain, printed on rayon which was one of the first man-made fibres, designed as a substitute for silk and made from cellulose derived from wood pulp.
But my favourite pieces?
Well I will revert to type and those are the glamorous couture pieces of the late 1940s into the 1950s - heavily influenced by Dior's New Look of 1947.
On the left is 1950s silk dress by Ceil Chapman and on the right a 1948 silk satin and sequin gown by Jacques Fath.
Chapman was an American fashion designer based in New York who dressed Hollywood stars like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. Despite these credentials, her dresses were mass produced and are therefore still relatively accessible for vintage fans (for a price!)
Fath was a French fashion designer, who along with Christian Dior and Pierre Balmain, was credited with the resurgence of haute couture following WWII. Unfortunately, Fath's fashion house closed in 1957 following his early death in 1954 from leukaemia and is generally less well known these days which is really criminal!
To have such dresses so readily accessible to view and admire is such a treat and I would urge you to visit the galleries and support the work of the museum. I've focused on the older pieces but which were your favourites?