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Two garments on display in the exhibition 'A History of Fashion in 100 Objets', Fashion Museum, Bath, until 1 January 2019.Two garments on display in the exhibition 'A History of Fashion in 100 Objets', Fashion Museum, Bath, until 1 January 2019.Its the final day of our trip around southern and south-western England and we are in the Georgian city of Bath, home at one point to Jane Austen, and the location of the famous Assembly Rooms, where romantic balls took place over 200 years ago. The Assembly Rooms is now home to the Fashion Museum. A wonderful museum with over one hundred thousand items in its collection that date from the sixteenth century to the present day. The exhibition 'A History of Fashion in 100 Objects' (19 March 2016 - 1 January 2019) illustrates four hundred years of north European/Western fashion, literally from Elizabethan embroidered gloves, to items straight off the 2015 catwalks.

The items are on display in the basement of the Assembly rooms, where light is not a problem for the more delicate items. Both men and women's outfits are on show, although the majority are for women. In addition to the basic information about where a garment comes from, who wore it and who made it (if known), there are also titbits of local gossip and comments from contemprary written sources, and more serious historical facts.

A popular room, especially for children, is the dressing up area, with a wide range of (replica) garments that visitors can try on. There is also a section showing parts of the storage rooms, with the various types of card and plastic boxes that are used for flat as well as rounded objects, such as hats. This museum has provided inspiration for many of its visitor's, including myself, and I was left feeling a little jealous and wondering how we can lift the TRC and its growing collection of world textiles and costume to this level!

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 7 August 2016

Impression of the exhibition 'The Ornate and the Beautiful, Bishop’s Palace, Wells, from 16th April – 31st August 2016.Impression of the exhibition 'The Ornate and the Beautiful, Bishop’s Palace, Wells, from 16th April – 31st August 2016.Wells in south-west England was a surprise. I had not expected much, but it is a lovely medieval/Georgian city with a beautiful cathedral and bishop's palace (complete with moat, drawbridge and porticulis to keep the unruly citizens of the town at bay). Wells Cathedral likes embrodery and even has embroidery tours!

The main focus is on the embroideries designed and made for the quire (choir) of the Cathedral, between 1937 and 1952. They include 39 panels for the backs of the canopied stalls, many more hassocks, as well as seat runners and long kneelers. Also on display is an early-12th century cope chest. In the small St. George Chapel there are several hassocks and kneelers dedicated to those who fell during the First World War (1914-1918). These include several that were especially designed to fit around pillared seats.

Near the chapel there are several late-20th century altar frontals that are woven, as well as one that is embroidered. Several of the many tomb effigies depicting early bishops of Wells are still painted. These help to give an idea of the ornate nature of the ecclesiastical vestments worn and their design/colour combinations. In this respect, it is worth noting that until the 31th August there is an exhibition in the Palace called "The Ornate and the Beautiful" about ecclesiastical (embroidered) garments from the 14th to 20th centuries. Most of the thirty or so items on display are from the collections of nearby Downside Abbey (Catholic) and Wells Cathedral (Anglican). Many of the items have never been on display to the public before.

The items in the exhibition include a variety of chasubles, a few copes (as well as a large, medieval cope chest), and some orphreys, especially a beautiful orphrey that dates to the medieval period and is made in a form of opus anglicanum. There was also a small, but intriguing book cover from the 18th century, which had the embroidered arms of a bishop. In addition, there were relevant items of jewellery, such as bishop's rings and crosses. The exhibition included interesting and useful text boards about the various individual and groups of objects on display. Sadly there is no catalogue to the exhibition, which is a pity as the exhibition was otherwise well put together.

Also in Wells there is the Wells and Mendip Museum, which recently staged an exhibition about samplers. The museum was given a large collection of these objects by the late Eveleen Perkins. The samplers date back to the 18th century. Many of the them were in the temporary exhibition (spring 2016), while there is a group of 35 examples that are on permenant display. Again there is no catalogue to this collection. Hopefully in the future this situation will change.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 6 August 2016.

Today Willem and I went to Windsor Castle (following our trip to Buckingham Palace yesterday). A very different royal residence, with a much more masculine feeling.Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret admiring the two dolls, France and Marianne, in 1938.Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret admiring the two dolls, France and Marianne, in 1938. We were able to see Queen Mary's Dolls' House, with its miniature furniture, including textiles and embroideries. The next gallery we saw in the Palace will appeal to followers of French fashion, because it includes the garments made for two, large dolls presented in the name of the children of France to Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, during a state visit to France by their parents, George VI and Queen Elizabeth, in 1938. The metre high dolls are called France and Marianne. The outfits and accessories were made by various Parisian haute couture ateliers, including dresses by Lanvin, Rochas and Worth; Cartier jewellery; cases by Vuitton and handbags by Hermès; as well as Lancôme and Guerlain perfume. The garments range from underwear to day dresses, evening gowns, coats, gloves and hats, shoes and so forth. All hand made and many embroidered. There are a total of 360 items.

Scattered around the state rooms that were open to the public were embroidered regimental flags and military uniforms decorated with fine passementerie. In the rooms assocatied with the Order of the Garter, there was an embroidered garter band with the motto honi soit qui mal y pense, and a beautiful example of the garter emblem worked in gold thread. Tucked in one corner of another room was a large, seventeenth century embroidered box, but unfortunately it was not possible to get close up to it to see how it was made.

The afternoon was spent walking around the town of Windsor and the road to Eaton School. There are various tailors along the road who clearly show that 'dress and identity' is alive and well at Eaton. In particular the waistcoats worn by some of the senior students are simply gorgeous.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 31 July 2016

Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from the Queen's Wardrobe. Buckingham Palace, April 2016 -January 2017.Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from the Queen's Wardrobe. Buckingham Palace, April 2016 -January 2017.Yesterday (30 July 2016), Willem, Keireine Canavan (a fellow textile lover from the Cardiff School of Art and Design) and myself went to Buckingham Palace (where else) to see their latest exhibition about the garments worn by Princess, and later Queen, Elizabeth of Great Britain. The garments spanned a period of ninety years, from her christening robe to outfits worn with the opening of the 2012 Olympic Games in London (with James Bond in the helicopter). The highlights included her wedding dress and coronation robe. In addition, there were outfits worn as a child to the coronation of her father, George VI, on 12 May 1937; uniforms worn while she was in the army during World War II, and many of the garments worn during state visits to other countries and state events celebrating various visits of leaders to Britain. In many cases there were photographs of her wearing the outfits with accessories, such as hats. Speaking of which, there was a gallery dedicated to five decades of hats and hat designers. One thing that was missing was jewellery, that all important accessory that makes and finishes an outfit, but as she wore the same pearl necklace on various occassions, it is likely there was not enough jewellery to go around, let alone the security problems associated with their display.

One thing that struck both Keireine and myself was how badly some of these specially designed garments were made, with varying hem lengths on coats, poorly finished cuffs, even poor tensioning of the sewing machine, which left numerous ripples in the cloth (which should have been flat). It has nothing to do with age, as a photograph of the Queen wearing a particular garment clearly showed the ripples. Very curious.

In addition to seeing the exhibition (which was incredibly crowded), the ticket also included a visit to various state rooms inside the palace. What an amazing place to live and work, surrounded by paintings of the ancestors, as well as the odd Van Dyke, Rubens, Canaletto, and one particular Rembrandt that got to all of us, namely the portrait of Agatha Bas (1641). One of the most intriguing, wonderful paintings ever, with Agatha dressed in some of her finest garments and lace.

A coffee/tea, plus a walk around part of the palace grounds finished the visit. The exhibition of garments runs until 8 January 2017 and is well worth seeing, although the hefty price of the ticket was initially a bit of a shock, more than twenty pounds, until we realised it also included the chance of seeing the staterooms and all the paintings, sculptures and so forth (although with a noticeable lack of tapestries and embroideries).

Part of the afternoon was spent at The Foundling Museum, to see the tokens, especially pieces of cloth, that were attached to children's records when they entered the Foundling Hospital, an eighteenth century charitable institute. These now provide the largest sample of dateable eighteenth century textiles from the lower ends of London society. A sad reminder of a very different and hard way of life. These textiles have been published by Prof. John Styles in a book called Threads of Feeling (2010). A book that is well worth reading, both for the textiles and the social history surrounding them.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 31 July 2016

British Museum, LondonBritish Museum, LondonThanks to an invitation by the British Foundation for the Study of Arabia I was able to attend the 50th Seminar for Arabian Studies, which was held at the British Museum from 29th -31st July 2016. I presented a paper about embroidery from the Arabian Peninsula. This was one of several papers about textiles, dress and accessories presented and discussed yesterday morning. The directly relevant papers included those by Aude Mongiatti, about the technical analysis of Omani silver jewellery; Lezley George, about the fashionable aspects of wearing an abayeh in the UAE; Martin Ledstrup, on men and the wearing of national dress in Ras al-Khaimah; Keireine Canavan about hand weaving among the el-Sadu in Kuwait, and finally Neil Richardson about weaving in Oman and its survival in the modern world (especially how camel racing has promoted the production of hand woven animal trappings).

What I really enjoyed during the meeting was how the various speakers often referred to the lectures by the other contributors. This created a strong feeling of cohesion, and the various lectures clearly complemented each other. The diversity of styles of lecturing was very noticeable, but all were interesting. Well done to everyone who was involved in the organisation of the conference!

In the afternoon a group of us travelled across London to Blythe House, an old and massive Post Office building where various museums, including the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, have storage depots. Here we were treated to a special viewing of Arabian Peninsular garments and textiles, including some magnificent Saudi and Yemeni embroidered dresses. Walking around the depot was an eye opener for some, as regards the problems of dealing with such a vast and diverse collection. We were allowed to see (but not touch) an eighteenth century bark garment from the Pacific region, which is associated with Capt. Cook and is one of the first items in the British Museum's collection. A reminder of just how impressive, varied and important the BM's textile and dress collection actually is.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, London, 30 July 2016

Yesterday, 28 July 2016, Gillian and I had the opportunity to spend some time in Canterbury Cathedral. What a marvellous place it is. Of all the religious buildings The heraldic achievements of the Black Prince (beware, these are replicas).The heraldic achievements of the Black Prince (beware, these are replicas).we ever saw, this church is truly the most fascinating and at the same time it feels extremely comfortable. Perhaps it is the architecture, with its many nooks and crannies, and its ever changing levels, leading from the nave to the choir.

Gillian had the chance to talk with the vesturer, who showed her some of the beautifully decorated liturgical vestments of the cathedral, including some that were embroidered by the famous English 20th century embroideress, Beryl Dean. We also wanted to see one of the heraldic ‘achievements’ of the Black Prince (1330-1376), namely his quilted surcoat (jupon; see also the relevant entry in TRC Needles), which used to hang above his bronze effigy and the tester above it, at his tomb behind the Cathedral’s choir, together with his metal gauntlets and his helmet, but the surcoat is currently being restored and will be on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum later this year.

Painted curtains (right at the bottom of the picture), Chapel of St Gabriel, Canterbury cathedral.Painted curtains (right at the bottom of the picture), Chapel of St Gabriel, Canterbury cathedral.Finally, some of you may remember my surprise late last year when visiting Rome to see paintings of curtains at various medieval places, including the Romulus temple at the Forum Romanum, and the Sistine Chapel (see the blog of 26 December 2015). Actually, yesterday, I saw curtains painted in almost the same way in the Chapel of St Gabriel, in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral.

Willem Vogelsang, London, 29 July 2016

Embroidered trousers for Afghan wrestler in a zurkhana ('House of Strength'), Kabul, early 20th century.Embroidered trousers for Afghan wrestler in a zurkhana ('House of Strength'), Kabul, early 20th century.The last few days have been spent on the glorious (and very wet) Cote d’Azur in southern France. It sounds good, but it was actually for work. The TRC was offered a collection of Afghan garments, caps and shoes by May and Rolando Schinasi, who lived and worked in Afghanistan in the 1950s and 60s. They have some amazing stories to tell about when there were only five foreign companies in Afghanistan, and when in the 1950s Rolando was the only foreigner in Kandahar.

During their period in Afghanistan they bought many items to decorate their home and to enjoy, including lengths of silk cloth, Uzbek ikats, chapans (long coats), a beautifully embroidered baby’s cradle, a pair of leather trousers used for the Persian/Afghan gym (the zurkhana) illustrated here, a hunting cloth, and so forth. They are now tidying up and were told about the TRC via a friend. So Willem and I went to Nice to talk with them and to make sure they were happy and comfortable about the destination of their collection.

We left with two large bags full of items and these are now in the TRC deep freezer. But that is not the end of the story. Mrs Shinasi also has a large jewellery collection (Pashtun, Tajik, Turkmen and Uzbek), and eventually these pieces will also come to the TRC. In addition, she told a friend, Prof. Mark Slobin (USA), about us and he has a collection of Afghan items bought between 1967 and 1972. They were actually delivered to the TRC this morning. Everything is now in the deep freezer, and then next week the TRC is going to look a little like an Afghan bazaar! The Slobin collection includes, among many items, beautiful Uzbek silk ikats, chapans for men, a hunting hood, a crochet/beaded front for a dress, as well as a long, plait (braid) bag for keeping a woman’s hair in order.

To add to the story above, we have added a water colour made between 1835 and 1838 by Godfrey Vigne, a renowned traveller in the Indo-Iranian borderlands (and accomplished cricketer!). It shows a wrestler from Kabul, wielding the two characteristic clubs of the zurkhaneh, still of a type being used in modern Iran, and wearing the equally characteristic trousers, of which a beautifully embroidered example has now been so kindly donated by May and Rolando Schinasi to the TRC.

Once photographed and catalogued, all of the new items, added to the TRC’s own collection, will mean that the TRC has an extensive holding of Afghan textiles and garments. Through these and other donations, covering all parts of the world, the TRC collection is now becoming a world class resource centre, and shortly many of our items will be online. This will give people around the world access to the many fascinating items in our collection.

As you can imagine, the TRC collection is growing rapidly and we need to find serious funding to expand our storage facilities. If you know of someone who would be willing to become a TRC patron and help us achieve our full potential as a research and educational centre for textiles and dress, please tell them about us!

Gillian and Willem Vogelsang, 17 June 2016

Today, Saturday 11 June, we travelled to Bamberg, a large, medieval city in southern Germany, about two hours by train from Regensburg. Here we went straight toThe Sternenmantel of Henry II, early 11th century. Bamberg.The Sternenmantel of Henry II, early 11th century. Bamberg. the Diözesanmuseum in order to see the mantles and other garments associated with the Holy Roman Emperor Henry (Heinrich) II and his wife, St. Kunigunde. They reigned in the early eleventh century. The museum also houses various papal garments associated with Pope Clement II who died in 1047 (his tomb is the only papal burial north of the Alps).

On display in a separate room in the museum there are three mantles and one cope (called a pluvale here in Germany), all related to Henry II and his wife, Kunigunde. These are the famous Sternenmantelthe so-called Knights mantle (Rittermantel), the Great Mantle of St. Kunigunde, and the Cope of St. Kunigunde. The same room also contains a bell-shaped chasuble and a tunic especially associated with St. Kunigunde. All the garments date to the early eleventh century, although they have been heavily restored over the centuries.

To actually go and see the Sternenmantel, as well as St. Kunigunde's Great Mantle, and the Knights mantle was something we had wanted to do for several years, and it was well worth it. The silk and gold thread embroidery is spectacular.

The Clement items, which were recovered from his sarcophagus in 1942, included various silk, silk damask as well as other woven textiles, such as a pair of stockings (better: buskins) made from a very fine damask silk, and a large, pontifical dalmatic. Many of these silks have been given a Byzantine origin.

And of course in the Bamburg treasury is the famous Byzantine wall hanging depicting two women flanking an emperor on horseback, which also comes from the tomb of Clement. The Bamburg museum also contains liturgical vestments from various periods, as well as an amazing collection of medieval wood and stone sculptures, wood carvings in general and metal items such as reliquies and items for on the alter. Well worth a visit.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 11 June 2016

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The TRC is open again from Tuesday, 2nd June, but by appointment only.

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Stichting Textile Research Centre

TRC Gallery exhibition:
5 Febr. -27 August 2020: American Quilts

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The TRC is dependent on project support and individual donations. All of our work is being carried out by volunteers. To support the TRC activities, we therefore welcome your financial assistance: donations can be transferred to bank account number NL39 INGB 000 298 2359, in the name of the Stichting Textile Research Centre.
Since the TRC is officially recognised as a non-profit making cultural institution (ANBI), donations are tax deductible for 125% for individuals, and 150% for commercial companies. For more information, click here
Financial donations to the TRC can also be made via Paypal: