TRC Blog: Textile Moments

Strong women in fashion

Mantua, ca. 1760-1765, silk and linen, on display at the exhibition Femmes Fatales, at the Gemeente Museum in The Hague, the Netherlands.

Mantua, ca. 1760-1765, silk and linen, on display at the exhibition Femmes Fatales, at the Gemeente Museum in The Hague, the Netherlands.

Saturday, 2nd February 2019, Shelley Anderson writes:

Femmes Fatales is an exhibition now on at the Gemeente Museum in the Hague (NL). It’s an exhibition with a difference, billed as the first exhibit in fashion history that concentrates on female fashion designers. It is a real must-see for anyone with an interest in fashion and in fashion history.

On display are clothes and sketches, all with excellent background information, from over twenty designers, including Coco Chanel, Jeanne Lanvin, Elsa Schiaparelli, Mary Quant, Vivienne Westwood, Rei Kawakubo and many others. Nor are Dutch women ignored: clothes designed by Fong Leng, Sheila de Vries and Iris van Herpen are prominently displayed.

The clothes date from 1750 to 2018, opening with over a dozen eighteenth century French dresses (mostly women’s silk gowns, occasionally mixed with cotton and/or linen). At this time in France male tailors belonged to prestigious (and better paid) guilds. Women seamstresses were restricted in both the materials they could work with and the type of clothes they could make. Seamstresses were forbidden to work with silk, and could only make upper garments for women and children’s clothes - but, in the case of boys, only if the boy was under eight years old.

This began to change in 1675 when wool seamstresses in Paris organised a women-only guild. (Interestingly, wool seamstresses in Amsterdam organised their own guild in 1579, but still had to pay dues to the tailors’ guild). As fashions changed, there were fights, sometimes physical, over whether men or women would be allowed to make the new designs.

I found the exhibition of clothes from the 1910s-1920s thrilling. This is when women created some of the great fashion houses of Paris. To see the actual work of pioneers like the Callot Soeurs, Chanel and Madeleine Vionnet, was exciting. These clothes were as innovative then as van Herpen’s 3D printed and laser cut dresses, or Kawakubo’s bizarre mathematical creations are today.

The exhibition is a powerful statement of women’s creativity. “Femmes Fatales: Strong women in Fashion” is on until 24 March 2019.

   

The Queen Amina embroideries from Nigeria

Sample of white damask cloth with fourteen embroidery patterns, Queen Amina Embroidery group, Nigeria, 2019 (TRC 2019.0097).

Sample of white damask cloth with fourteen embroidery patterns, Queen Amina Embroidery group, Nigeria, 2019 (TRC 2019.0097).

A few days ago a small package, with numerous Nigerian postage stamps, arrived at the TRC. It contained two samples, which was a great (and wonderful) surprise as only one sample had been ordered! The samples were organised, especially for the TRC, by Hassana Yusuf and made by Fatima Haruna and Ramatu Sani of the Queen Amina Embroidery group from among the Hausa in northern Nigeria.

The samples were made for the Encyclopedia of Sub-Saharan African Embroidery (due in 2020; Bloomsbury Publishers, London). The samples are made on locally available cotton damask cloth using a thick cotton thread. They are hand embroidered in a variety of stitches, including decorative darning stitch, open chain stitch and butttenhole stitch eyelets.

Read more: The Queen Amina embroideries from Nigeria

   

Opening Velvet! exhibition, TRC, Leiden, 22 January

Leiden council Alderman Ms Yvonne van Delft (left) and Dr Gillian Vogelsang (right) at the opening of the Velvet! exhibition, TRC, 22 January 2019.

Leiden council Alderman Ms Yvonne van Delft (left) and Dr Gillian Vogelsang (right) at the opening of the Velvet! exhibition, TRC, 22 January 2019.

Gillian Vogelsang writes on Tuesday, 23 January: The new TRC exhibition VELVET! was opened yesterday in snow-covered Leiden by Alderman Yvonne van Delft, Leiden Council. Ms. Van Delft is responsible, among other things, for cultural affairs in Leiden.

Before the official opening we spent a while talking about the TRC, what we are doing and how, the collection and future possibilities, before carrying out the official moments.

 

Read more: Opening Velvet! exhibition, TRC, Leiden, 22 January

   

SOS, preparing two new TRC exhibtions

A pair of hand knitted Macedonian bridal socks, late 20th century (TRC 2019.0068a-b).

A pair of hand knitted Macedonian bridal socks, late 20th century (TRC 2019.0068a-b).

On Sunday, 20th January 2019, Gillian Vogelsang writes:

SOS: No, I am not asking for life-saving assistance. Instead I want to update the reader on the preparations for two exhibitions, namely one on hand knitted socks and other footwear, and another on men's ties and related neckwear. Perhaps some of you will understand the SOS?

The exhibtion on knitted footwear will open this autumn and will be based on the TRC Silk Stocking project and the recreation of the silk stockings recently found in a shipwreck off the coast of Texel in the north of The Netherlands. The other exhibition, on men's neckwear, is planned for the autumn of 2020, and will focus on men's ties and related garments. We have been publishing various announcements and blogs about the plans for both.

Anyhow, hence the title: SOS, which is the informal Dutch term for Sokken, Overhemd of Stropdas ('Socks, shirt or tie'), and for obvious reasons related to the sometimes awkward question what present to give to a man for his birthday or for St Nicholas.

Not long ago we announced via the TRC Newsletter and on TRC Facebook that we are looking for ties and hand knitted socks for these two forthcoming TRC exhibitions.

There have been numerous reactions and good suggestions about how to get these. One TRC follower in Australia is even asking a dedicated group of local spinners and knitters to make a pair of Australian socks for the hand knitted sock exhibition! A few days ago, someone popped into the TRC and left behind three pairs of socks, including a pair from northern India, one pair knitted by her grandmother, and a third pair that are a bridal form from Macedonia! I suspect that there are various brides to be in the Netherlands who would love to wear such amazing socks at their weddings!

And something completely different: Tuesday 22nd January will see the opening of the TRC’s latest exhibition about the history of velvet and the many different types and ways of using velvet. We put a complete list of all the objects on display onto the web, with direct reference to the online catalogue of the TRC collection, so that people who cannot personally come and see the exhibition will have an idea of what is included. It is a colourful and inspirational exhibition, with some items that are going to get people wanting to make their own velvet garments.

   

Silk Stockings Project: The Hall of Fame

The TRC Silk Stockings Project is progressing well. Last year summer, some forty knitters started with their attempt to knit stockings with extremely fine needles and equally fine silk threads. They were going to reconstruct the seventeenth century silk stockings that had been discovered in a ship wreck off the coast of the Dutch island of Texel some years ago. The first stockings have now been completed! The photographs show the proud knitters and their results. 

Read more: Silk Stockings Project: The Hall of Fame

   

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Hogewoerd 164, 2311 HW Leiden. Tel. +31 (0)71 5134144 / +31 (0)6 28830428   info@trc-leiden.nl

Opening times: Monday to Thursday: 10.00-16.00 hrs, other days by appointment.

Bank account number: NL39 INGB 0002 9823 59, Stichting Textile Research Centre

Entrance is free, but donations are always welcome !

TRC Gallery exhibition: 22 Jan. - 27 June: Velvet!

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The TRC is dependent on project support and individual donations. All of our work is being carried out by volunteers. To support the TRC activities, we therefore welcome your financial assistance: donations can be transferred to bank account number NL39 INGB 000 298 2359, in the name of the Stichting Textile Research Centre.
 
Since the TRC is officially recognised as a non-profit making cultural institution (ANBI), donations are tax deductible for 125% for individuals, and 150% for commercial companies. For more information, click here
 
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