Style File – A Century of Style

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Now don’t worry, I haven’t gone back in time this week and started reporting on the current fashions of the Victorian age, in fact this week I took a trip to see the A Century of Style exhibition at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow. As a textiles student its very important for us to visit as many exhibitions and museums as we can to learn about all areas of our trade. Ive always been very interested at looking at fashion from throughout the years having been to see exhibitions at the V&A in London and around the country, all about fashion through the decades so this one for me was not one to miss. Instead of just writing about what I saw I thought I would talk about how I think some of the fashions back then have influenced some the of the styles today.

I chose out 2 areas in particular to talk about.  I did my best to photograph what I could but with it seeming that the interior designer at Hollister had designed the lighting for the exhibition I struggled with the lack of lighting and occasional fire escape or cctv camera lurking somewhere in the background of the picture.  

Green velvet 

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Background information: 

‘Despite green being a dominant colour in nature there were relatively few natural dyes that reproduce it. For centuries any strong greens were created by over dying blues with yellow. Some softer olive shades used iron mordants to tint the yellow dyes.’ In the mid 1800 the first  true synthetic green dyes were created creating very vibrant shades of green. In reaction to these in the late 1880’s more softer pleasing tones of green returned to fashion and bringing back the use of natural plant dyes. 

‘Silk velvet was one of the most expensive materials to make due to the amount of additional thread required to create the raised pile. Its high price meant this its use was restricted to royalty, aristocrats an the clergy, but by the late 1800’s cheaper cotton velveteen was available which was increasingly worn by the affluent urban middle classes.’ 

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With it now being the middle of November and the christmas party season now popping its head around the corner you can’t really go into many fast fashion stores without brushing yourself against many velvet items (and then proceeding to feel it for a few minuets just because of the lovely texture.) 

As a young girl I remember finding on of my mums old ‘going out’ dress in back of her wardrobe from her youth that she’d held onto being a beautiful velvet green figure hugging floor length dress. Many a day I used to try and dress up in it myself but at the age of 7 and a measly few feet tall it was a tad too long. 

Nowadays, personally when it comes down to my wardrobe velvet isn’t something that I am a huge fan of feeling that it is a rather dressy fabric and not particular casual, and if it can’t be worn casually I doubt I will buy it. The only velvet item which I own is a pair of black velvet leggings from urban outfitters a few years ago which I have had a lot of use out of, pairing them very casually with a big jumper and scarf combo and some winter boots. With them being black the velvet was less noticeable and easier to match with anything to make a comfortable day time look. 

With it being more of a dressy fabric if worn casually I think it is very important to stick to less is more, just because those velvet leggings and top are the same colour does not mean that they match well. Keep it to one key piece be it a skirt or a pair of shoes and find some more simple and plain items to match around it. But if you are going for the dressed up look then why not go all out with a slinky head little velvet number, but yet again, make that the centre piece for your whole outfit and keep the accessories to a minimum. (may have to try and nick that dress back out of my mums wardrobe) 

Velvet on todays runways

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Velvet on the highstreet

velvet highstreet

Red military jackets 

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Background information: 

‘Red has been and still is a popular colour for clothing. Crimson silks dyed using expensive imported cochineal – crushed shield insects –  were prestigious fabrics, reserved for royals and aristocrats in the renaissance period. Naturally dyed red flannel petticoats were worn by many people in the belief that they could ward off rheumatism.  Red was a dominant colour in the British textiles industry, which produced wool and cotton fabrics rebound for their colour and fastness.’  

‘In the 1800’s red, rather than blue was associated with the boys. This was partly because of its use in military uniforms. However it was also seen to be a strong and dominant colour suitable for the masculine sex.’ 

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Now despite it being an exhibition full of beautiful victorian lady dresses, for me the on piece or few pieces I should say that kept drawing my attention was that of these 2 red mens military jackets. This involved me spending far too long loitering around them getting funny looks from the security guard trying to take the perfect photo without any strangers or unidentified object getting in the frame. The bright bold colour I think was the main thing which drew my attention. One thing which surprised me with the whole exhibition as a whole was how brightly pigmented a lot of the garments were still in this day and age, having  lasted the amount of years they have and having been dyed with older methods. This pillar box red really grabbed may attention along with the flashes of gold within the buttons and on the lapels. These jackets look obvious military and upper class from the 1800’s by their characteristics but in spite  of this they still very much remind me of some of the formal wear worn by our royals today and also within the uniforms worn in competitive horse riding and hunting. This just shows the timeless nature which these jackers posses and how fashion from 100’s of years ago can still be relevant today. 

Now annoyingly when we initially think of military fashion in the 21st century cheryl cole (or whatever she is called now) springs to mind first. This comes with them being very much in trend a few years back and being championed by ms cole. For me it was never something that I bought into with it not particularly being my style however I do love the tailoring that goes along with a lot of the military.  When looking at military style within todays fashions you see pretty remains much within jackets and mostly Karachi green loose fitting army jackets much like the military uniforms of today rather than the fitted and well tailored uniforms of the 1800’s. But here are a few runway and current high street items relating to this style. 

Military on the runway

military runway

Some of my other favourites from the exhibition. 

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Love the black embroidery detail on this jacket

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very much reminded me of some of the scarves I own

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You cant really tell from this photo but this dress was beautifully covered in beading and embroidery

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If you want to see the rest of the lovely exhibition head down to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Musuem in Glasgow where the exhibition will be running until the middle of February.  

My design portfolio: https://www.flickr.com/photos/129012653@N05/albums

Chloe Natalie Knott Textile Design facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chloenatalieknotttextiles?ref=hl

Etsy shop https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ChloeNatalieKnott?ref=hdr_shop_menu 

Please feel to leave comments/messages in the comments and follow me on instagram at @chloenatalieknott or on twitter at @ChloeNatKnott 

Historial research gained from The Kelvingrove Gallery and Museum, Glasgow 

Photos taken on a Canon 1200D 

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