London part 2

London  part 2

Part 2 of our London trip included viewing Queen Victoria’s and Princess Diana’s dresses in Kensington Palace  in London. On the way to Kensington Palace we walked through Hyde Park. The sun was out, there were primroses in the planter boxes, wild parakeets in the trees and snow drops under the bushes just outside Kensington Palace.  At home in Massachusetts 5-8″ of snow was predicted.

Snow Drops

Snow Drops

Inside Kensington Palace we saw some of the rooms Queen Victoria lived in as a child. As we are watching Victoria on PBS and The Crown on Netflix, seeing these rooms in person was fascinating. The rooms are much smaller than one would think from the television shows. Several of the rooms in the Queen Victoria part of the museum were closed for renovations. This is the only photo I took in this section of the museum– one of Queen Victoria’s gowns.

Queen Victoria's gown

Queen Victoria’s gown

The contrast of the delicate white lace gown with the heavy red and gold over-robe and the thick gold rope belt tied in a loop knot is striking.

Lastly, we went to see a temporary exhibit of some of Princess Diana’s dress.

Shirred silk chiffon with beads and sequins

Shirred silk chiffon with beads and sequins

This gown, designed by Gina Fratini for Hartnell in 1991, was inspired by saris. Princess Diana wore the gown in Rio de Janieiro, Brazil. I was intrigue by the mix of beads and sequins at the top of the bodice.

 

Pastel sequin dress

Pastel sequin dress

 

 

 

Close up of sequins

Close up of sequins

This dress, designed by Katherine Walker, was worn on the same trip to Brazil in 1991. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a close up photo of the sequins.

 

Gold Falcon Dress

Gold Falcon Dress

This dress was near the end of the exhibit; it was designed by Katherine Walker and worn by Princess Diana during a visit to Saudi Arabia in 1986. I love the way the gold falcons start on the right shoulder, cross the front of the gown, continue around to back at the waist, and then cascade down the back, slightly left of center, all the way down onto the train. The falcons, made of padding and gold sequins, are different sizes and shapes accentuating the sense of flight.

Gold Falcon gown, front

 

Gold Falcon gown, back

Much has been already written about Princess Diana, the People’s Princess.  For me she represented a person who developed a style, which we would now call a brand, which could be adapted by regular people like me.  I grew up in the 60’s and early 70’s when to think about clothes and how one looked was considered shallow; we were supposed to be concerned with ending the Vietnam War, the future of our planet when it was being destroyed by DDT,  and other “serious” issues.  Clothing, make up and self presentation was not only unimportant but thinking about them was egotistic and vainglorious.  Fancy clothes, anything other than blue jeans,  were a “Costume” which didn’t reflect the “real you”.  This notion was further reinforced by my life in the theatre, where I  made costumes for a living. Somehow Princess Diana managed to marry her personal appearance in fancy clothes with political actions, like meeting AIDS patients while wearing a beautiful dress. While I didn’t need a beaded gown or even a tailored suit, I could analyze Princess Diana’s stylish appearance, her gracious ways and apply them to my life: to my wardrobe, my house and my interactions with others. Trite as it might be, she was a role model for me.  Her clothes were, and are, an access point into the courteous, smiling and accepting person that was (the public) Princess Diana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

London!

#25- London!
I am in London, England with my husband for a week! We are staying at the Rembrandt Hotel,    www.sarova-rembrandthotel.com  across the street from the Victoria and Albert Museum   https://www.vam.ac.uk/.   We bought a membership to the V&A, which allows us access to the museum and the special exhibits as often as we like. We’ve been 3 times since we arrived 4 days ago.

Kate & Ellen smiling

Kate & Ellen

On our first day in London we met Kate of Fabricated   http://fabrickated.com/ . Kate is charming, generous and fascinating to talk to. Kate told us about her day job and we compared notes about difficulties of buying a home, apartment/condo/coop in a large city like London or Boston without parental help or a 7-figure salary. We also talked about Kate’s book project, and I think we talked about blogging and making clothes but jet-lag fog has obscured that part of my memory. It was lovely to meet Kate in person; she’s extraordinary.

After a cup of tea and piece of cake Kate, my husband and I wandered through the jewelry exhibit while trying to find the William Morris textiles. That’s the thing about a large museum like the V&A: on the way to one exhibit you pass through another exhibit that’s fascinating!

necklace made of buttons & gold wire

Button Necklace

Here’s a photo of a necklace made by Rowena Gough in 1999, of mother of pearl button and gold wire. I love this! I want to know what kind of gold wire is strong enough to support all of those buttons.  Any ideas?

My husband and I saw the Balenciaga exhibit, also at the V&A, which was beautiful. I took some photos in this exhibit- technical sewing things that caught my eye.

Hem with pleated support

Hem with pleated support

Here is a photo of the train of a long gown, which is supported by a heavily pleated underskirt or maybe a pleated facing.

Feathers & Beads on a gown

Feathers & Beads

This photo of a feathered and beaded dress is supposed to show that the feathers are beaded and the dress itself is beaded. It makes sense to bead both the feathers and dress under the feathers in scattered patterns: lots of varying sparkles from the many layers, which move differently in the room’s air currents.

We have also been to Kensington Palace, where I took some photos of Queen Victoria’s and Princess Diana’s dresses but they will have to wait for the next post—coming soon.