I visited the V&A a week or so ago. One of my favourite museums in London, the Victoria and Albert Museum is an eclectic mix of sculptures, religious art, design and fashion, but on this visit I wanted to spend some time in their Fashion section.
One thing which really surprised me was the size of the shoes on display. All the shoes, from the 1700s until the 1960s, were tiny – something like a size 0, if there were such a thing, but terribly narrow with it. They were about the right size for my 8 year old if he had incredibly skinny feet!
I know the outfits are very old and precious and probably need storing in particular conditions, but it was a shame that the exhibition was so gloomily lit. Not only because my photos didn’t turn out particularly well, but also because I found myself squinting to try and see details. Perhaps my eyesight is getting worse, but I yearned for some nice bright halogen type lighting like you’d get in a shop!
Here are some of my favourites from the 19th Century fashions, some of the information about them is really surprising! I’ll do a separate post later on the more recent fashions. Hope you like my choices!
Above and below: A very Jane Austen style silk satin and silk net ball dress embroidered with metal c. 1820.
Victorian French dress in magenta silk from 1869-1870. Early magenta dyes often had traces of arsenic which could leak out during wear and cause skin irritations.
A Victorian cage crinoline from 1960-1965. Steel spring frame covered with red wool and linen. Look at those teeny tiny shoes! They looked about a UK size 2, but about half the width of modern shoes!
Lovely Edwardian bag, I’d love a bag like this…
Thanks so much for the pictures and the details! I’m always amazed at clothes from this era.. these are no exception.
Thanks Nancy, glad you liked them. I’ve only recently got interested in anything pre-1920s, so it’s been a real revelation. I want to go back and see their historical wedding dress exhibition next!
This is awesome! My husband and I will be in London in the spring and this is a great reminder to visit the V & A. He’ll be delighted that there are examples of menswear (he always feels left out, poor soul). Thanks for the post.
There are plenty of versions of menswear (well, up until the 20th century anyway), you’ll love the V&A 🙂
you have a great blog!