The more challenging aspect of mounting this costume was creating a suitable support for the frilled skirt. Inside the skirt was an original metal hoop stitched between the layers of stiffened cotton, but this was not suitable to fully support the skirt long term. It needed a solid cushioned support to rest on. There is also a short muslin skirt underneath the frilled layers, which needed to be accommodated.
Working with our in-house technicians, a flat perspex ring was made and attached to the mannequin using angled brackets, to allow the skirt to sit above them.
When compared with images of Pavlova in similar costumes, the skirt sits raised at the back and slopes down at the front, therefore the angled perspex disc needed to reflect this. Gathered layers of nylon net were added to cushion the skirt and help add volume. Once on the mount, the feathered shoulder straps were held in place with stitches as the original elastic had failed and become loose and stretched over time.
Once the dress was mounted it was packed for air transit. Working with an external specialist art handling company, a crate was ordered large enough to house the dress along with a pair of shoes and tiara which were also being displayed.
Layers of silk Habotai and cushions were placed between the dress layers to reduce abrasion during travel. The feathers were still too fragile to have any significant weight placed on them, so a large Tyvek cover was made to protect and buffer the dress from outside elements without touching the delicate brittle feathers. Once inside the crate the mannequin was secured at its base and neck to prevent movement during transit and then it was sealed up.
On arrival at the Fashion Institute of Technology, the dress was unpacked and as it was already on its mount, placed into its display case alongside the accessories. Due to Covid-19 the exhibition was unfortunately cut short, but the dress was able to make its way back to Museum of London during the summer when restrictions had been eased. Now that the dress is fully conserved we hope it will go on display again at Fashion Institute of Technology, but until then it is safely housed back in the museum stores.