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Yinka Shonibare and African ‘wax print’ textiles

A recent exhibition by the Nigerian-British artist Yinka Shonibare prompted some reflections on the relationship between medium and artwork, and between concept and execution, in contemporary art. Shonibare uses ‘wax print’ textiles, manufactured in Europe for consumers in West Africa … Continue reading

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The Great British Sewing Bee

  Magazine pattern sheet, 1860 I was a consultant for the Great British Sewing Bee on BBC2, talking about early dressmaking patterns. Although we know these were on sale from the 1860s, very few tissue paper originals survive. It’s even … Continue reading

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Slogan t-shirts – ‘This is what a feminist looks like’

Recently I attended the launch for Stephanie Talbot’s book, Slogan T-Shirts, Cult and Culture. It was a starry event, with fashion designers rubbing shoulders with journalists, bloggers and DJs. The book itself is a fascinating examination of the different meanings … Continue reading

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Light and colour

1903 lampshade panel for Hill House, Helensburgh (V&A T.66-1953) At the darkest time of year, it’s interesting to think about how much of a luxury artificial lighting was until the late nineteenth century, and the way that different forms of  lighting affected … Continue reading

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Margaine Lacroix and the dresses that shocked Paris

An exhibition at Westminster Reference Library, on until 30th November, highlights the work of the forgotten couturier Margaine Lacroix. Research by Dr Sue Ralph of Bath Spa University has shown that this designer was experimenting with draped construction and corsetless … Continue reading

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Textiles in Florence

At the Costume Colloquium in Florence there were fascinating presentatations by curators and researchers from all over the world, sharing their new discoveries. There were special visits to museums new and old: the Palazzo Davanzati, with its recreated medieval interiors … Continue reading

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Royal School of Needlework

I have recently been appointed as Lecturer in Contextual Studies at the Royal School of Needlework. This is a fascinating institution, founded in 1872 in order to teach traditional skills in hand embroidery including Stumpwork and Goldwork. The setting at … Continue reading

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Sindy Dolls and models of womanhood

A recent news story about the proposed sale of the Sindy doll brand brings up some relevant issues about young girls’ role models. As a child in the 1960s it was clear to me that Sindy and Barbie represented different ‘lifestyles’, … Continue reading

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The Songs of Milne on Radio 4

I was interviewed by the pianist John Kember for a Radio 4 programme (aired 19 June 2012) about the songs made from AA Milne’s children’s verses by the composer Harold Fraser-Simpson. This was a thought-provoking exercise which got me pondering how … Continue reading

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Inside Outing at the Rivoli Ballroom

I gave a presentation on Dance Floor Fashions at a V&A event, ‘Inside Outing: Ballrooms’ yesterday, which prompted some reflections on the interaction between music, fashion and culture. Researching the talk, I was struck by the openness of British culture to … Continue reading

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