Costume in Kensington

Sunday, June 17th

Today was a lovely day in the neighborhood!  Kevin and I planned a rather low- key day, mostly because stuff is either closed (Westminster, Portobello Road, The Globe, Buckingham Palace, etc) or reputed to be massively busy (The Tower). So we decided to wander around our locale, and see what we can find.

The highlight of our day was definitely the Victoria and Albert Museum.  We wanted to go there originally because they have a very extensive costume collection.  The museum is dedicated to architecture, fashion and style, and contains a rather eclectic collection of things from different countries, all around the world, from medieval through present.    The costume collection was very interesting, and I have seen some of the things they had on display there in books and so on.  The Marie Antoinette- era court dress was probably the most dramatic, given that it was over 6 feet wide, heavily embroidered, and worn by someone no more than 5 feet tall.  There was also some very nice Victorian examples, and in general, it was very fun to look around.  In another gallery, focused on Britain in the Renaissance, there were a few ladies’ smocks, and a really beautiful embroidered jacket.   It really is amazing how well something can survive for so long.

A 17th century corset (or, pair of bodies). So pretty!

Kevin thinks I should make him these suspenders to wear at Dickens.

A wedding dress! I could have worn this! Except that it was made for someone several sizes smaller, and a solid foot shorter.

Very pretty pagoda sleeve bodice. And look! They have the fabric it was made out of it the back!

I loves this dress! It’s the brightest raspberry pink you can imagine, and it has ruffles everywhere! It would take FOREVER to make, but it would be worth it.


A Victorian corset. I don’t know why, it reminds me of the circus.

This is a 50’s dress. I likes it!

This one reminds me of Elise. I do not really know why. It’s ORANGE!

This one I like LOTS. Polka dots! Poofy! And it’s got some sort of tulle bustle- thing going on in the back, but it refused to be photographed nicely.

This is a lady’s chemise (undershirt) from the 1600’s. It’s got lace inset into the yoke and sleeves. I cannot believe how good it looks for being 400 years old. Seriously.

And a man’s set of clothes, slightly later in period.

An embroidered ladies’ jacket, in pieces. This is similar to, but not exactly the same as one I was hoping to see, which was unfortunately out for conservation.

A really awesome book showing how to make different kinds of decorative braids! 16th C, I think

This is another chemise. All of that is blackwork. This is supposed to be worn UNDER stuff, people! Can you imagine putting that much effort into something no one is going to see?? Like, ever???

One really neat thing about the V&A is that you have to look everywhere.  They have vaulted ceilings out of manor houses and chapels – up on the ceiling.  Tapestries and statues like the wall, and once, there was a section of tiled floor from a church underneath glass on the floor.  There were cool interactives, too, where you could design your own fabric patterns and so on.  In theory, you could email the design to yourself, but I haven’t gotten mine yet…  I hope it works, because I really want a couple of them.  Definitely fun times

A really really pretty backgammon board. Dad and Shaun should play on this one!

One of the galleries on the museum, complete with piece of someone else’s building.

For lunch, we wandered around until we found a fun Japanese place.  Because it’s Sunday, a lot of places were either not open, or doing some sort of Sunday Roast thing, which didn’t usually work for Kevin.  But the Japanese was tasty, and Kevin said he was dying for rice, so it worked out perfectly.

After lunch, we went back toward the museums, because Kevin got all jealous when I showed him the pictures from the Natural History museum.  We didn’t stay for too long, but it was fun to walk though, and we went to a couple of the galleries that I hadn’t made it to yesterday.  Then we took the long way home, through a corner of Chelsea and Westminster, and made ourselves some dinner.  It was a long day of walking, so I think both of us were glad to be off our feet and relaxing a bit.  Especially because there’s more tomorrow!

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