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Redressing Pleasure: inside the costume store

Timothy Long, our fashion curator, has been posting some selfies from inside our Costume Store, as part of our month-long Redressing Pleasure campaign. He's highlighting some of the most fascinating fashions from our collection of 18th and 19th century clothing, and picking the best to include in our new, updated Pleasure Gardens gallery display.

Timothy Long

Curator of Fashionand Textiles

15 November 2017

This exquisite c. 1790 dress is one of the artefacts we want to conserve and exhibit as part of #redressingpleasure. The conservation will be done by Textile Conservator @melina.plottu. While the bodice is in near mint condition, the skirt needs attention as it is sewn to a thin and fragile silk ribbon waistband, which is not strong enough to support the weight of the skirt. We need your support to help us conserve the waistband and a few other areas. We also need your support to help us reproduce some petticoats, which is a fun, yet time-consuming process - as the shape must be cut to properly exhibit the skirt (and to fit the mannequin).

Oh wow! What a treasure. This late 18th century dress was donated with dozens of ‘scrap’ pieces. As I started to go through these pieces, I was shocked and delighted to find identifiable parts, giving us glimpses of older incarnations of the dress. While the sleeves and the inner layer of the bodice appear to have remained throughout each upgrade, the exterior to the bodice and parts of the skirt, were cut off and kept. We would like to include this dress in our new Pleasure Gardens display, but it requires some creative solutions to put it back together again and then to build a mannequin to exhibit it properly, including petticoats. Will you help us put the ‘Queen of the Night’ back together again?

A Victorian Archeress! It doesn’t get much better than this. This stunning ensemble was donated to the Museum of London in 1954. It was worn by Mrs Fanny Giveen (1833-63). If you know anything about her, please do get in touch. This ensemble will be our ‘performer’ in the 19th side of the gallery. Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens had ‘archery fetes’ in the 19th century, represented by this costume. We are so pleased to have an excuse to exhibit this incredible ensemble. However, we must reproduce her skirt and undersleeves and I hope to buy an original 1850s women’s archery bow, to complete the ensemble.

Our Archeress received such a wonderful response on social media that I recorded a second video. Thank you! I thought you might like to see more of the ensemble. Every page of the notebook is filled with scores, lists and drawings...all appear archery related and all written by Fanny Giveen herself! And then the water coloured targets... I'm in love.

We hope to exhibit this 1830s pelisse next to the men’s 1830s coat. We are calling this ‘couple’, Jeremiah and Electa. I fell in love with this pelisse immediately. For women’s fashion, I think the period around 1830 is fascinating. The odd proportion in design, enormous sleeves, towering hats & feathers. We may even get to work with ‘sleeve supporters’ (parts of a costume, not donors to #RedressingPleasure). I am really looking forward to seeing this pelisse conserved and mounted, with all the correct undergarments and accessories.

Thank you to everyone who helped us to Redress Pleasure! You helped us raise over £12,000 to fund a new and beautifully restored display of Georgian fashion.

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