Category: History & Theories

Life, Death and Bananas

Peter Doubleday is a Senior Technician for Fashion and Sportswear Design

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Isle of The Dead

 Arnold Bocklin 1880

Outside of my role here as a Senior Technician I also have my own creative practice. I originally trained as a painter and printmaker doing a Fine Art degree and later a Photography MA. My recent work has applied traditional printmaking techniques to photographic imagery. This blog post is a look at some of this work. Continue reading

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How Vintage Patterns Reflect On the Culture of Fashion Today

Julie Ripley is a Senior Lecturer on BA (Hons) Textile Design.

I love working with vintage patterns, so when I was given this one from Vogue (figure 1) I was fascinated.  And nervous.  Because this kind of pattern presents many creative challenges that indicate big changes in the culture of fashion since they were made.

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Fig. 1 – Vogue Pattern from 1954

If you are eagle-eyed you may have spotted that the design is by Elsa Schiaparelli, the great surrealist couturier. Born in Rome in 1890, Schiaparelli, or ‘Schiap’ as she was known to friends including Salvador Dali, became one of Paris’ leading designers between the wars.  Her quirky tromp l’oeil knitwear, dresses and jewellery (figure 2) delighted celebrity clients including royalty and film stars, allowing her to open her ‘Schiap Shop’ at 21 Place Vendome in Paris in 1931. Unlike her rival Coco Chanel, Schiaparelli left Paris during the Nazi occupation and found the city and its fashion scene transformed when she returned in 1945.  By 1954 she was out of business. Continue reading

The One Pocket Manifesto

Adam Grice is Senior Technician for Graphics, Web and Film at the Fashion & Textiles Institute.

I’ve always been fascinated by pockets…

Deriving their name from the Norman diminutive of the Old French word ‘Poke’ (the modern French word is poche) a pocket is a bag or envelope-like receptacle either fastened to or inserted into an article of clothing to hold small items. One also finds them attached to luggage, satchels and similar.

With origins shrouded in the mists of time (the oldest known European mummy – circa 3,300 BC was discovered on the border between Austria and Italy with a pouch sewn to his belt) the full extent of the pocket’s history is as much a mystery as what might be contained within…

Over time the separate bag or pouch has been incorporated into our garments and our collective consciousness. In European clothing they have evolved from the ‘fitchets’ of the 13th century (a slit in a garment designed to give easy access to a purse or keys kept safe within), to pouches worn like a purse on a belt under an overcoat or tunic to deter thieves.

In modern apparel we enjoy watch pockets, patch pockets, flap pockets, welt pockets, jetted pockets, inset pockets, bellows pockets, waterproof pockets to name but a few.

Mixed Pockets

The simplicity, the versatility, the practical, utilitarian functionality of the pocket is a thing of wonder. Who among us has not squirreled away a handful of loose change, pocketed a bunch of keys or deposited a keepsake in a garment cavity? Continue reading

Objects Tell Stories

Dr Kate Strasdin is Senior Lecturer in Histories and Theories at Falmouth University and Deputy Curator at Totnes Fashion and Textiles Museum.

Picture1.pngI will happily admit that I am an ‘old stuff’ nerd. As a young kid with an over-active imagination, I found objects utterly fascinating – I wanted to know how they had been used or made or worn and why. As I grew older this focused specifically on dress and textiles. Why did women wear corsets? Why did men shave their heads and sport a powdered wig? What is a crinoline all about? This has persisted into my adult life and luckily I was able to make an actual career out of it, not just teaching this as a subject to Falmouth University students, but the curating of objects too at the Totnes Fashion and Textile Museum in Devon. Continue reading