Sunday, 23 December 2018

Night and Day at the Fashion and Textile Museum

I have been looking forward to Night and Day: 1930s Fashion and Photographs since I first saw it advertised at the beginning of the year, and it certainly didn't disappoint!

(Warning - this is another picture-heavy post. Click on any of the images to enlarge them.)

Michèle Morgan photographed by Ernest Bachrach, c 1939

The exhibition includes over 100 outfits, as well as 30 photographs by Cecil Beaton, a selection of Pathé newsreels, and studio and press portraits. Downstairs covers 'Night' clothing, while 'Day' is upstairs.

As ever with the Fashion and Textile Museum, only a few exhibits in the first room are behind glass.

Sequinned evening dresses

This pair of dresses demonstrates the style differences between the beginning of the decade, and its end.

Velvet dresses from the early and late 1930s

There is also a display of some of the wealth of women's magazines which existed at the time: it was interesting to see which ones still exist.

Titles include "Vogue", "The Lady", "Miss Modern" and "Needlewoman"

The main room is where the sheer size of the exhibition really hits you. One section features clothing in black and white. . .

Monochrome elegance

. . . while another looks at the influence of cinema. I was intrigued by the dress on the right: with its cut and its chiffon sleeves, at first glance it looks more like something from the teens era than the 1930s.

Lamé dresses

The main display features a dazzling array of dresses, ranging from reds on the left to cooler shades on the right. Many of them are bias cut, with barely a rippled seam to be seen. I could only gaze at the workmanship in awe!

So much 1930s glamour

One of my favourite films is Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (not least for the wonderful costumes by Michael O'Connor), and looking at this tableau, with the singer at the centre, instantly reminded me of the scenes in the 'Scarlet Peacock' nightclub.

Another view of the display

One of the things I love about the Fashion and Textile Museum is the care which goes into mounting their exhibitions. It is frequently possible to look at items from the back as well as the front.

Back views of two of the dresses featured above

It is also possible to look down onto this particular group of dresses from upstairs, which provides yet more detail.

Early to mid-1930s satin gown, seen from various angles

Finally downstairs there is a display of studio portraits by Dorothy Wilding, Madame Yevonde and Paul Tanqueray.

Women from Society and the Arts

Upstairs is less out-and-out glamour, but no less stunning.

Cool summer dresses in silk, cotton and organdie

Summer clothing also features in this display of holiday dressing.

Ready for the sun

This section includes my favourite item of the entire exhibition. At first I thought that it might be a playsuit with a wrapover skirt, but it is actually a dress: made from linen and trimmed with cowrie shells.

Mid-1930s dress, labelled 'Becker Fils'

There are plenty of day dresses on display, too.

A selection of early and mid-1930s dresses in rayon

Rayon and silk dresses. The one on the far left is probably home-made from a pattern

A great many of theses dresses have belts or waist ties, which reminded me of an observation made by the wonderful Vintage Gal when I wrote about reissue pattern Simplicity 1777 omitting the waist ties; namely that these were a feature of the period. They allowed for changes in weight or for dresses to be passed on to another wearer, at a time when people owned fewer clothes and they were expected to be worn for longer.

Back view showing ties, belts, and interesting sleeve shapes

A small display on home dressmaking, complete with a 1934 Singer machine, had me confused. There is a spool of thread in place, but it is ineptly wound round various points of the machine. Surely someone in the Fashion and Textile Museum would know how to thread a sewing machine?

The display

Yes I know it's super-nerdy but really, what is going on here?

The final section uses the 1937 coronation as a basis for a display of red, white and blue clothing.

Patriotic colours

It also includes two of the best hats in the exhibition.

Very different, but both fabulous

The Cecil Beaton photographs were hard to photograph due to reflections. However I did manage to capture this this triptych on the art of retouching - proving that there is nothing new under the sun, including Photoshop!

'Charwoman to Dowager', 1930s

Most of the photographs on display are portraits however, such as this shot of society 'Bright Young Things'.

The Soapsuds Group at the Living Posters Ball, 1930

Night and Day runs until 20 January 2019.

No comments:

Post a Comment