Jenny La Fleur
a day at the V&A - Jenny La Fleur
adventures in costuming
a day at the V&A
The three of us woke up sore from the lousy mattresses and a poor night sleep. Maegan in particular woke up with a very sore neck. We got dressed together but went in separate directions after leaving the hotel. Maegan went to take a bus tour of the city while Bridget and I headed for, my favorite museum in London, the Victoria & Albert (V&A).

Once at the V&A, we went straight to the Raphael galleries. On the way we discovered that the fashion galleries were closed for reovation work. According to the sign the permanent dress collection with be open again in early 2005. I was bummed but I had seen the collection twice before so I wasn’t too put out. I would have not had enough digital pic space to do the collection justice anyway, as we discovered later. Next time right?

The closure of the dress gallery gave me a chance to see more of the museum than I had seen before. We spent most of our time in the British Galleries. They were arranged by date and were very well done. There were some pieces of clothing (most of which I had only seen in books) throughout the exhibit so that was nice. Bridget was sweet and took notes of everything I photographed, saving me a lot of hassle. Except in the textile rooms that is. Bridget wondered off and left me to do my drooling all alone in there. :>

Bridget taking notes for me smock c1575-1585 embroidered table cover c16th cen c1659 - beaded basket c1600-1625 - woman's embroidered coif c1630-1650 - woman's collar c1600-1625 - womans' jacket, possible maternity wear 17th century bags c1630 - woman's embroidered smock c1660-1670 - silk stays (see Fashion in Detail cover) c 1780s - gown - fabric c1744

For those that have not been to the V&A, the textile room is filled with cases, which are in turn filled with historic textiles mounted in large frames. The frames can be pulled out and taken to the desks that line the walls for study, photography or sketching. There are over a dozen of these cases with 100-150 frames in each. I quickly became overwhelmed and decided to stick to certain sections. I looked primary at the 16th and 18th century embroidery pieces. I think the thing that amazed me the most was the size of the stitching. It was all tiny - as in half the size of my stitches. *sigh* And I thought I could embroider! I was hoping to see some 18th century pockets, as I’m planning on embroidering some soon but no luck. There were some lovely stomachers though, among other things. I picked out a few pieces to photograph and I was just finishing up on the last frame when Bridget came to fetch me.

cases in the textile rooms a 13th century frame pulled from one of the casesc1600 - coif, motif approx 1¼" high closeupc1700-1750 - unfinished needlework panel c early 18th century panel early 18th century bodice close up early 18th centruy stomacher bound with silk tape early 18th centruy stomacher bound with silk tape

We wondered around the museum for the rest of the afternoon, mostly in sections I had not been into before. Large sections of the V&A were under refurbishment but there was still plenty to see, such as the Tea rooms (William Morris designs... *drool*), the lace rooms and the Devonshire Hunting Tapestry gallery. *gasp* So much to see and so little time to soak it all in... The bookstore was a bit disappointing, the fashion book section wasn’t as good as I had remembered it. It is mostly modern stuff now or books I already own. They did have a copy of Arnold’s Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d, which was fun to look through. I didn’t bring enough spending money with me to buy it though, wow that is an expensive book! :> I bought one book on 18th century clothing and a small tablecloth printed with William Morris’ Brother Rabbit print, among other little things.

There was a series of concerts in the Raphael rooms all afternoon (an enormous high vaulted-ceiling room full of large Raphael paintings). We were able to sit down and listen to the last of the concert. The tenor was pretty good, although hard to hear. The jazz singer was good, especially the first song which featured a cornet player. The best was the soprano though. Mozart’s Alleluia and Musetta’s Waltz from La Bohème were wonderful songs for the venue and the perfect way to end the day. By the end of the concert, both my feet and my soul had been refreshed.

Bridget and I then went back to Fortnum’s to buy the nessicary biscuits, pâté and other goodies to take home. We also stopped at Tesco again for some dinner (sandwiches & pasta salads) before heading back to the hotel. Maegan was waiting for us there, a little sun-burnt but having had a fun day on the bus. We ate dinner in our room, a nice if slightly stuffy way to end the day.

Day Five:

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