Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Darnell Collection

We had a fantastic guest speaker in our tutorial at uni today. Charlotte Smith, the curator of the Fashion and Textile Gallery in Surry Hills joined us and brought with her key pieces from her extensive Darnell Collection. The Darnell Collection for those of you who don't know, is a vintage clothing collection Charlotte originally inherited from her godmother and expanded, with the oldest piece dating back to the 1700s. We were taken through the decades and shown key features in the fashions of the past and how they evolved and have in turn influenced current fashions. I found the talk very interesting and relevant to myself as I originally became interested in studying costume and did explored some avenues in the industry before coming to UTS.

Below are two Victorian bodices that caught my eye. Charlotte made a point of the fact that these garments were made with the idea that the internal structure was just as important as the external. This could clearly be seen in the amount of work and care taken in perfecting the detail on the inside which is the side you don't see.

In 2006 I took a gap year between school and University and travelled around the UK. I spent most of my time in London and every couple of weeks I would visit the Vintage Clothing Fair in Hammersmith. One visit I found a bodice scrunched up in a pile of black fabric, it was like finding a diamond in the rough! I could not believe my luck when I was told it was 10 pounds! And I thought I would include a picture because Charlotte's visit reminded me I had it! It is interesting to note the way the sleeve is shaped in a curve, instantly revealing the lifestyle the woman who might have worn this would have led as it suggests restricted movement and a sense of poise. The colour, being mostly black, also suggests the wearer may have been in mourning for the loss of a husband perhaps. It is fascinating what the features of historical garments can reveal about the people who may have worn them.

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