Chelsea Reference Library had a bit of space on the wall above our costume collection, and what better way to fill it than with some beautiful images from our fashion and costume periodicals?
Staff at the library were asked to pick their favourite images from a shortlist, and choosing was tricky! The images, depicting costume spanning the Regency and Victorian eras, were all picked from our own magazine archives of La Belle Assemblee, The English Woman’s Domestic Magazine and Les Modes Parisiennes. We like the fact that the winners show how the shapes and styles of fashionable dress changed over 5 decades:
Classical Greece influenced dress was at the height of fashion in 1808, featuring a high empire waist line and long straight skirts. Woman dampened the muslin draperies so that they clung to their figure!
This evening dress from 1812 features a great turban – indoor caps for daywear weren’t that fashionable in this era but essential for evening wear and turbans were a very popular choice.
By 1928 a very different silhouette was in fashion –with so called leg-o’-mutton sleeves and skirts with tiny waists and wide bases. Check out the elaborate trimmings and hats!
By the 1850’s ladies skirts were so domed that they had to be supported by hoped cages called crinolines and lots of petticoats.
And then by the 1870’s the fashion was to have a flat front of the skirt, with lots of fabric pushed to the back… called a bustle. This image features a popular style called the Dolly Varden (Charles Dickens fans will get the reference) – where you have an overskirt which is shorter at the front with the sides and back bunched up.
Here are a few other images that were on the shortlist but didn’t make the final cut. We hope you like our choices!
The colours of these prints are really vibrant even after all these years, but we also loved seeing some amazing pictures of the actual fabrics in one of the books that we have in our collection – Nineteenth-Century Fashion in Detail by Lucy Johnston published by Victoria & Albert Museum:
To find out a bit about costume in this era we also read History of Women’s Costume by Marion Sichel. Come along to Chelsea Library to find lots more about the world of Costume and Fashion, or log on to Berg Online with your library card!
Want to do more online? Did you know you can expert advice at your local reference library? We’ve the following training sessions coming up at Kensington Central and Chelsea Reference Libraries.
Fashion at your fingertips: Explore fashion from around the world and throughout history with Berg Fashion Library
Wednesday 18 September, 2 to 4pm at Chelsea Reference Library
Come along to this demonstration to get the most out of this great resource about everything fashion! Invaluable for scholars, students, professionals, and anyone interested in dress, it includes the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, an extensive eBook collection, a vast image bank, extra reference resources and more.
Business information: professional resources made available for free from your library
Thursday 26 September, 2 to 4pm at Kensington Central Reference Library
At this session we will guide you through how to use two great business research websites which are available free through your library: Mint UK and also Cobra. Mint UK provides access to a wealth of company information including company data, directors, news and market research. Cobra is a continually updated information resource for anyone who is running a small business or thinking of setting up a business. Here you will find practical information and advice such as start-up business ideas and profiles, guides to business support in different areas of the UK and much more.
Social media: how to make the most of Facebook, Twitter and more
Friday 25 October, 10am to 12 noon at Kensington Central Reference Library Saturday 16 November, 2 to 4pm at Chelsea Reference Library
Social media is a great way to keep in touch with people and meet new people, but if you haven’t signed up to use one of these really popular sites yet or are not sure how to get the most out of them, this session will get you started!
Bon voyage! Get advice about booking travel online
Thursday 31 October, 10am to 12 noon at Chelsea Reference Library Friday 15 November, 2 to 4pm at Kensington Central Reference Library
If you are unfamiliar with the do’s and don’ts of booking travel online then this session will help to boost your confidence and give you practical advice about how to book tickets online easily and safely.
You can book your free place to any of these sessions at Chelsea Reference Library or Kensington Central Reference Library by calling 020 7361 3010 or email email@example.com
To celebrate London Fashion Week in September for the Spring /Summer 2014 collections we have some fantastic fashion events in two of our libraries.
Dressed to Impress: London Fashion in the 1960s
Wednesday 11 September, from 2pm at Chelsea Library
Join Archives for London to ‘get the skinny’ on the groovy threads and glamorous glad-rags that were worn by the Beautiful People in one of the most happening cities in the world.
2pm – A number of speakers from the Museum of London, Liberty and Central Saint Martins will be providing talks and reminiscing about influence of the King’s Road and Carnaby Street. There will also be a demonstration of the Berg Fashion Library – an online resource which is accessible through the library service.
5.15pm – An opportunity to view a display of archival images from the period.
6pm – A walk conducted by Chelsea Walks along the King’s Road highlighting the location of pivotal boutiques such as ‘Granny Takes a Trip’, ‘Bazaar’ and ‘The Sweet Shop’.
Dressed to Impress: London Fashion in the 1960s – exhibition
Monday 2 September to Friday 13 September at Chelsea Library
Come and see images from Archives for London and our Local Studies collection illustrating this exciting time in fashion in swinging London.
Fashion – Press the Fast Forward Button
Tuesday 24 September, 6.30 to 8pm at Kensington Central Library
Are you interested in the fashion industry? Thinking of starting a fashion business as a designer, retailer, importer or exporter? Then don’t miss this opportunity to hear from expert fashion management consultant David Jones and successful designer and entrepreneur Francesca Marcenaro.
David Joneshas worked in the fashion industry for 40 years and for the last 15 years has run his own consultancy specialising in fashion. Born in Italy, Francesca Marcenaro is passionate about the ancient art of her country. She designs and crafts jewellery in her workshops in London.This session is in partnership with Colin Rutt from Portobello Business Centre.
Please book your free place to this talk at Kensington Central Library.
Explore the Berg Fashion Library
Wednesday 18 September, 2 to 4pm at Chelsea Reference Library
There’s fashion at your fingertips with our amazing database the Berg Fashion Library. We’ve a training session that’ll show you how to explore this resource which has fashion information from around the world and throughout history.
Places are limited so book you free place soon at Chelsea Reference Library on 020 7361 3010 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Hello to you all from the staff at Chelsea Library.
Stories, crafts and a wizard in the children’s library
This summer during the heat wave we ran two successful story and craft events – an ugly ducking session tied into the Hans Christian Anderson story. Thirty three children came to design flying swans and yellow ducklings and left with a free copy of ‘The Ugly Duckling’ (given to us by Bookstart).
Funny Bones by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
The Tickle Ghost by David and Brett McKee
Walter de la Mare
The second story and craft event had a creepy house theme. We read out Funny bones by Janet and Allan Ahlberg and David and Brett McKee’s The Tickle Ghost as well as Walter de la Mare’s The Listeners. We asked the children to imagine what happens next. What will those phantoms treading on the staircase do now that the traveller has gone?
Diane, one of our Senior Customer Services Assistants, designed some brilliant ghosts, little stuffed spectres and hand puppets. The children decorated them with coloured ribbons and sashes which streamed beneath them like kites. Like vampires, who after the overkill of the vampire publishing boom are in desperate need of a transfusion, ghosts can get a little clichéd. So we tried out some new shapes, among them was a Kung-fu kick boxing ghost with a Jackie Chan headband.
The summer highlight was a visit by Mr Wiz, a Fulham based wizard who played to a packed house of over 50 children. He blew bubbles, threatened to turn chatterboxes into dinosaurs and frogs (one member of staff is still suffering from the frog spell—she stares distractedly at garden ponds in her lunch hour). He magicked pineapple chunks into golden coins and led them in a dance about Five Little Speckled Frogs. The children were thumping on the floor so excitedly that the porters in their office below reported a steady fall of plaster. Each child left with their very own broomstick shaped balloon so that they could fly home chasing bubbles. It was great to see the library so busy – children were still coming through the door during the magic.
Baby rhyme time will be touring the O2 Arena and Wembley Stadium with a beefed up version of ‘Wheels on the Bus’ but until then we hope to take it outside into the Sydney Street Gardens. And if you can’t wait – come along to our weekly session on Thursdays at 11am.
Customer Services Assistant
Fashion takeover in the reference library
This week the reference librarians have taken over the Chelsea Gallery to showcase some books from our Costume Collection. There are some rarely seen books on Ancient Egyptian dress from our archives on show.
And also some great 80’s fashion images, inspired by the exhibitions currently on at the V&A and the Fashion and Textile Museum (which we’ve blogged about recently ‘Zandra Rhodes – Unseen (and seen in Vogue and Harpers and Queens)’). We’re really inspired by going to these exhibitions, so look out for more related fashion collection blog posts from us….!
Information about both of these subjects and MUCH more is available from the online Berg Fashion Library which we subscribe to. If you are interested in finding out more about this fantastic resource, please ask us in the Chelsea Reference Library.
And for a taster, here is a great image of a 1980’s cardigan from the V&A and a description of it that we found in the Berg Fashion Library.
This hand-knitted cardigan was inspired by the patterns on decorative china plates. The kaleidoscope of stitches in bright primary colours emphasises its hand-crafted appeal, and the striking patchwork effect is achieved by alternating blocks of stocking and fancy stitches. The designer, Patricia Roberts, set up a hand-knitting business in 1976 and still runs a shop in London today. She has published many pattern books and issued ranges of luxury yarn. This cardigan is typical of her innovative designs in bold colours using contrasting textures and decorative stitches.
Working at Chelsea Library, with unlimited access to the Costume Collection, my interest in fashion has been revitalised. With the final days of my National Art Pass discount to be used, I went along to the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey Street, SE1. If you’ve not been – here’s a great description of the museum taken from their website:
The Fashion and Textile Museum is a cutting edge centre for contemporary fashion, textiles and jewellery in London. Founded by iconic British designer Zandra Rhodes, the centre showcases a programme of changing exhibitions exploring elements of fashion, textile and jewellery as well as the Academy which runs courses for creative students and businesses.
This pink chiffon and pearl dress with a zig zag hem was worn in Japan and was sold at a sale of Princess Diana’s garments at Chrisities.
Years earlier I attended a talk at the Commonwealth Institute given by Zandra Rhodes and I was interested to find out more. Back at Chelsea Reference Library I trawled through the back issues of Vogue and Harpers. I even put together a display in Chelsea Gallery (part of Chelsea Reference Library) of the materials I found to write this post.
There’s some great information about Zandra Rhodes on Voguepedia:
When she realized her prints were too bold and boisterous for other designers, Rhodes began crafting clothing, as well. Still, she never lost sight of the methodical approach that she learned in textiles. For early collections, she visited the Victoria and Albert Museum and studied ethnic costume in the field. With a scholarly eye, she filled her sketchbook with drawings of Maasai warriors in Kenya, cacti from the Mojave Desert, Australian rock formations, and even celestial bodies that she discovered at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. For her book The Art of Zandra Rhodes, she wanted her garments displayed flat, like mounted butterflies, rather than worn by models. That way, their extraordinary patterns were revealed.
Zandra, Queen of the Desert
Be inspired by the art of seventies icon Zandra Rhodes. The pink lady’s fantasy fashion delivered a fix of culture clash glamour that lives on and on: graphic textiles, bold prints and swathes of diaphanous chiffon.
This silk devore dress was from the same shoot – worn with a Philip Treacy Couture hat and leather, feather, sand shells and beaded necklaces by Erickson Bearmon.
How to do….Zandra Rhodes
The same issue of Harpers and Queen has a very handy guide on how to dress in the Zandra Rhodes style or as Harpers and Queen describe it:
The original – and still the best for jet-set chiffon and inspirational prints.
This silk chiffon dress is by Salvatore Ferragamo and it’s worn with lace leggings by Zandra Rhodes – you don’t have to dress head to toe to get the Zandra Rhodes look.
Attention! Diversion! Zigzag Rhodes!
Over to Vogue now…..
These pictures were taken from the article about Zandra Rhodes’ home:
Powerful patterns and coloured cover Zandra Rhodes house and her person, all is idiosyncratic, instantly recognisable decoration…The house, salmon pink outside, has mottled marbled sea-pinks and blues inside, a Martin Sharp mural up the stairwell meeting painted columns, urns, banked plastic flowers on the landing, with scarlet pleated bath alcove and Zandra in the tub.
Vogue’s own motor show
Here’s Jerry Hall in a Zandra Rhodes satin sarong – with a Rover to match!
Frilled sarong of pleated satin in whipped cream print, tendrils of rouleaux and gilded cords keeping body and soul together.
West Coast style
With more time, I’m sure I would find a lot more – I feel as if I am just scratching the surface. I really enjoyed researching this subject – so if you feel inspired come and take a look at our Costume Collection at Chelsea Reference Library.
Debby Wale, Triborough Reference Librarian
Chelsea Reference Library
‘The Art of Zandra Rhodes’ by Anne Knight is available to view in the Costume Collection – it documents her designs inspired by Africa, China and India
Vogue and Harpers and Queens – back copies of these magazines can be viewed in the Costume Collection too
Berg Fashion Library has more information about Zandra Rhodes – you’ll need a Kensington and Chelsea library card to access this amazing online fashion resource
June has been a busy month at Chelsea Library — over to the staff there to tell us more.
There hasn’t been a spare chair to sit on especially in the refurbished children’s library with its cool blue walls and sparkling windows. We held a story and craft event at the beginning of the month with a chicken theme. Chicken Licken went down well (nearly as well as that unfortunate chicken). It might be an idea to reread the stories beforehand and prepare for the sudden ending when the entire cast of animals are eaten by a fox in a waistcoat with a voice like Leslie Phillips. Diane designed some brilliant custard yellow chickens that rocked backwards and forwards. We had so many requests that we read the story again.
Last Thursday we hosted the first of our quiz afternoons in the Walker Room. We had a great turn out – lots of old friends and some new faces with hidden talents. The five teams slugged it out between bouts of tea, fruit juice and bread pudding. The A Team won with an impressive 30 out of a possible 35, even tackling the difficult trick question:
Has the United States of America ever had a King and , if so, who was he?
Answers in the comments section at the bottom of this piece please!
After the quiz there was a raffle and a sing song. We started the singing off with a rendition of The Lambeth Walk and it was followed byStanding on the Corner — a song about spending an afternoon on main street giving the girls the eye.
Vintage Guitars and Baby Rhyme Time
Baby rhyme time has been drawing big crowds; part of its popularity is the game of musical statues at the end giving carers and mothers the chance to dance as well as the children.
We’re now using a vintage guitar – a Danelectro in vivid ‘agent orange’ during the sessions. The children like the traditional songs but really respond to rock and roll – it gives them a great opportunity to stagger, dance and fall over. One little girl with a hearing aid enjoys the event because she can hear it quite clearly.
Diane Day, Senior Customer Services Assistant
Daniel Jeffreys, Customer Services Assistant
Great facts about Chelsea Reference Library
#3: The Walker Room
Behind the scenes of Chelsea Reference Library is the Walker Room, which is not only home to our archived magazines and newspapers, but is also where our expert staff run classes on how to find out about just about anything using our online databases – from Berg Fashion Library to Ancestry to business start-up information.
Check out the events page for the next classes and you can find full details of Berg Fashion Library, Ancestry and business information on our online databases page.
One of our Triborough Reference Librarians, Debby Wale, has been looking through our Costume Collection at Chelsea Reference Library for references to Nylon.
Susannah Handley’s book charts the history of Nylon.
In 1931 Wilmington’s Evening Journal broke the news that a silk like fabric could be made by combining antifreeze and castor oil.
Now for the technical stuff – I promise, there will be some fab pics from Vogue as usual!
What is Nylon?
This quote was taken from the Encyclopædia Britannica (Britannica Online Library Edition, 22 May 2013 – this can be accessed with Kensington and Chelsea library membership)
In October 1938, DuPont announced the invention of the first wholly synthetic fibre ever produced. Given the trade name Nylon (which has now become a generic term), the material was actually polyhexamethylene adipamide, also known as nylon 6,6 for the presence of six carbon atoms in each of its two monomers. Commercial production of the new fibre began in 1939 at DuPont’s plant in Seaford, Del., U.S., which in 1995 was designated a historic landmark by the American Chemical Society. Soon after the DuPont fibre was marketed, nylon 6 (polycaprolactam) was produced in Europe based on the polymerization of caprolactam. Nylon 6 and nylon 6,6 have almost the same structure and similar properties and are still the most important polyamide fibres worldwide.
Nylon arrived on the scene just in time to replace silk (a natural polyamide), whose East Asian supply sources had been cut off by imperial Japan. Women’s stockings made of the new fibre were exhibited at the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco and at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. The next year they went on sale throughout the United States, touching off a nylon mania that survived diversion of the fibre to military use during World War II and continued after the war with such intensity that nylon virtually established the synthetic-fibre industry.
Right, that’s the serious bit over. Those eyes that have glazed over can wake up now.
On to the nice pictures in Vogue!
These advertisements appeared in Vogue throughout 1958.
Stockings were an obvious candidate for nylon to replace silk – when they first appeared they were referred to as ‘Nylons’.
Astraka fake fur would please the anti-fur movement today, although I’m not entirely sure that poodle is impressed.
Chiffon was originally made from cotton – here is a selection of California Nylon Chiffon ads from Vogue, 1958
Above – You can see the puffball skirt is not an entirely modern invention.
The lady in the conventional yellow chiffon dress on the right is probably saying “I hope she doesn’t have to sit down in that!’
Above – are they amazed by her stylish appearance – or are they looking for the join in her hairpiece?
Nylon is extremely flammable, unless flame resistant treated. Below is an advertisement from Vogue in 1958 for a ‘flare free’ Heathcoat nylon dress.
Similar items of clothing are still manufactured today as you can see on the Heathcoat Fabrics website.
Nylon fabrics were easy to care for. As indicated in the advertisements below with women enjoying everyday activities wearing smart clothes. Smoking, drinking coffee, and possibly standing too close to the fire.
I remember being on the train in the days when people were allowed to smoke in carriages. I watched a fashionably dressed lady’s mini skirt start to melt when her cigarette strayed too close to her clothing. Luckily, I alerted her before her mini skirt became much shorter than she intended.
Shop for the shade… Nylon was available in bright, non-fade colours.
Every last thing a sweater can give. The knot and style of Wolsey, the wash and wear of Ban-lon – in specially processed nylon. Downy soft, feather light, with a dreamy eye for colour.
To bring us up to the present day, a 21st Century take on nylon, visit the Berg Fashion Library to see this article in full – you will need your Kensington and Chelsea library membership to access this.
Kanebo (Japanese manufacturer of textiles and cosmetics) are also developing ‘Biosafe’, a nylon filament yarn embedded with microscopic ceramic spheres (chemically bound to the fibres) that release a constant stream of silver ions, which has a powerful antibacterial effect.
The fabric is ideal for sportswear, high-performance gear, underwear and hospital gowns. Since the antimicrobial deodorant in Biosafe is kneaded into the fibre itself, its properties are highly durable and withstand repeated washing. Tests have shown the fabric will destroy some harmful bacteria and inhibit the growth of others, making the fabric ideal for hospitals or clinical environments.