It’s been some time since I last attended a History Wardrobe presentation. However, that has now been corrected as yesterday I spent the afternoon enjoying yet again Lucy Adlington and Meredith Towne’s humour, expert knowledge and style at the Bagshaw Museum in nearby Batley.
Fairy tale fashion display
“Once upon a time… Step into your favourite stories as we explore the world of magical clothes – the red riding hood, cloaks of invisibility, seven league boots and, of course, the legendary glass slippers.
In Fairytale Fashion we explore the enchanting history of the Princess dress, from Cinderella’s ball gown to Princess Diana and Disney. A dazzling fairy godmother dresses Cinderella for all the glory of an 18th Century ball.”
I recognised the Ladybird Books from my own childhood
To begin … Once upon a time … Lucy sets out the ‘rules’ of fairy tales – Be careful who you meet; Be careful what you eat; and don’t step off the path. Fairy stories are embedded in most cultures throughout the world. Lucy compared what is basically the same story but with certain national twists which distinguish them one from the other. She told us about the French story teller Charles Perrault (1628-1703); the Brothers Grimm [Jacob (1785–1863) and Wilhelm (1786–1859)]; Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) and Roald Dahl (1916-1990). Initially, the stories were handed down by word of mouth but these writers put them down on paper for posterity. Mainly about women the stories were told by men.
Lucy reading us tales!
After describing her own 18th century reproduction gown Lucy introduced her colleague Meredith Towne who arrived in her own hand-sewn (by herself) Little Red Riding Hood outfit.
From Little Red Riding Hood we moved on to the main demonstration of the afternoon The Dressing of Cinderella by her Fairy Godmother : from her ‘Below Stairs’ outfit to her magnificent hand-sewn ball gown.
Meredith as Cinderella
The beautiful gown she made herself
Back view of Cinderella’s ball gown
As usual after the History Wardrobe show we were encouraged to inspect everything at close quarters including an expensive piece of 18th century embroidered silk looking as fresh as if it were woven yesterday. The silk is similar to (it could even be) that designed in Spitalfields by Anna Maria Garthwaite of Princelet Street. And a pair of red Edwardian shoes similar in style to those worn by wealthy women in the 17th century.
The beautiful silk panel
And close up
The Red Shoes
Finally, Lucy has a new book published which is a fantastically detailed history of clothes in which she has something to say about every single item down to the very least article you might think of. It has the witty title “Stitches in Time” and I’ll be reserving a copy at the library very soon.
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