Halloween costume inspiration

At Chelsea Reference Library we are in need of some last minute Halloween costume inspiration.  Here are a few ideas that we have found in our amazing Fashion & Costume collection in case you are in the same boat!

In a book about costume design in the movies we found these great images from Beetlejuice:

BeetleJuice
BeetleJuice

In Costume Design by Deborah Nadoolman Landis

We also had a look in our Vogue archives for inspiration from the 70’s.  How about something like this glam outfit?

Vogue, October 1976
Vogue, October 1976

Or back in the 1957, this great 50’s outfit appeared on October’s Vogue cover:

Vogue, October 1957
Vogue, October 1957

Or you can’t go wrong with an aloha shirt, and we have a book full of them to look at for inspiration, along with some interesting history of the Hawaiian shirt:

The Aloha Shirt
The Aloha Shirt

The Aloha Shirt by Dale Hope and Gregory Tozian

Here is a great image of the Gothic & Lolita fashion movement in Japan taken around Haloween:

Gothic and Lolita
Gothic and Lolita

In Gothic & Lolita by Masayuki Yoshinaga and Katuhiku Ishikawa, Phaidon Press

Speaking of which, we have a talk coming up at Chelsea Library entitled Alice and the pirates: Alice in Wonderland and the dark and the cute in Japanese Fashion.  Josephine Rout from the V&A will be looking at how Alice has influenced Japanese sub-culture, and especially the iconic ‘Lolita look’ which developed in Japan in the 1980s.

The talk will be on Thursday 19 November, 6pm to 7.30pm at Chelsea Library. 

Make sure that you come along!

Mario Testino captured a great anarchic look for Vogue in 2006 to take dressing up inspiration from!

Vogue, May 2006
Vogue, May 2006

And if you have a pet, how about getting them dressed up for Haloween?  We enjoyed looking through a book that we found of different outfits for your dog:

Dog Fashion
Dog Fashion

Dog Fashion by Susie Green

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Our top ten all time best posts!

We were having a browse through the archives and loved reading the posts that stirred the most interest! Revisit the top 10 writings that most tickled your fancy…

1) A little bit of French ooh-la-la! Read all about Margaine-Lacroix and the dresses that shocked Paris

2)  Vogue cover stars at Chelsea Library. The Shrimp, Twiggy, La Moss and Naomi Campbell all graced the cover of Chelsea Library’s Vogue magazine collection

Kate Moss cover #2
Kate Moss, Vogue, 2012

3) The clothes of a Dandy are simple but impeccably cut…Learn more in  The history behind Mr Darcy’s wardrobe

4) A celebration of all things sporty, including Agnes Beckwith, The Greatest Lady Swimmer in the World. Sport and fashion

5) Do you find your children need to be coaxed into drinking their cocktails? Here’s the answer: Modern Publicity – cigarettes and alcohol

6) All things knitting! Did you know men are doing it too?! Knitting: the beautiful game.

Edward Llwyd of Bala, photgraphed around 1875, believed to be one of the last of the local stocking-knitters
Edward Llwyd of Bala, photgraphed around 1875, believed to be one of the last of the local stocking-knitters

7) It might sound like a leg-pull, but you do realise that the library that you visit is haunted, don’t you? No? Then read on…Haunted Libraries

8) The first ever Brompton Blog! Meet all the Brompton bloggers in The Brompton Blog- September 2012

9) Patrick Leigh Fermor was a young man of 17 when he decided to walk, in 1933, from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople. Read about his journey in The Broken Road by Patrick Leigh Fermor, The Long- Awaited Third Volume

10) Winter Kimonos: beautiful images from beautiful books in Chelsea’s costume and fashion collection

Kimono by Issey Miyake
Kimono by Issey Miyake

We’ve covered everything from swimming costumes to kimonos, books to ghosts, in our blog, and there’s plenty more where that comes from…what would you like to see in your local library blog next?

 

Happy World Book Day!

As it’s World Book Day, we thought we’d take the chance to show off some of our latest aquisitions from the Chelsea Library fashion collection…any excuse really!

Natalia Vodianova plays Alice with milliner Stephen Jones as the Mad Hatter and designer Christian Lacroix as the March Hare.
Natalia Vodianova plays Alice with milliner Stephen Jones as the Mad Hatter and designer Christian Lacroix as the March Hare.

From Vogue: the Editor’s Eye, (edited by Eva MacSweeney, 2012), a glossy new purchase full of fantastic images. This photograph is by Annie Leibovitz, from December 2003. 

Isabella Blow's fashion collection
Isabella Blow’s fashion collection

This image is from Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! (edited by Alistair O’Neill, 2013), a publication that accompanied her fabulous collection, photographed by Nick Knight at Blow’s ancestral home. 

Avedon Fashion, 1944-2000
Avedon Fashion, 1944-2000

Another new purchase…  Avedon Fashion, 1944-2000, a book encompassing seven decades of extraordinary images by phographer Richard Avedon.  This black-and-white shot was taken in 1959. 

Naomi Campbell
Naomi Campbell

Naomi Campbell races a cheetah in Hair: Fashion and Fantasy by Laurent Philippon, 2013. Photographed by Jean Paul Goude, another striking image found on our shelves.

Looking through the large scale images in these books is a great way to appreciate some amazing work.  As well as our shiny new books, our costume collection also contains some treasures from a bygone age… fashion from before the birth of photography even. The contrast between fashion images then and now is astonishing.

These old volumes are really tactile things that we love to pore over.  Do come along to the library to have a look!  Happy World Book Day!

English Woman’s Domestic Magazine, June 1867.
English Woman’s Domestic Magazine, June 1867.
La Belle Assemblee, December 1808
La Belle Assemblee, December 1808

Bibliography

Hair: Fashion and Fantasy by Laurent Philippon, 2013

 Avedon Fashion, 1944-2000 by Richard Avedo

 Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! edited by Alistair O’Neill, 2013. (page 98-99.)

Vogue: the Editor’s Eye edited by Eva MacSweeney, 2012.  (page 190-191.)

 

The Glamour of Bellville Sassoon – and the people that wear the clothes

Debby Wale, Chelsea Reference Librarian, writes:

I have been looking through David Sassoon’s marvellous book in Chelsea Reference Library. I’d seen Bellville Sassoon gowns at the V&A’s Ballgowns exhibition last year, but nothing prepared me for the out-and-out glamour of the Bellville Sassoon exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum (ends 11 January 2014).

Bellville Sassoon was founded in 1953 as Bellville et Cie by Belinda Bellville. Sassoon joined in 1958 Lorcan Mullany joined in 1987. It’s the people who wear the clothes that are of interest to me. You need an occasion to wear such glamorous outfits. So who wears Bellville Sassoon? As Britain’s foremost couture label from the 1960s onwards, Bellville Sassoon have dressed many of the world’s most stylish women, including Diana, Princess of Wales.

 Many well known clients of Belleville Sassoon had lent dresses for the exhibition: Lady Shakira Caine, Cilla Black, Minnie Churchill, Angela Rippon, Lady Jane Rayne, Lady Anne Glendower, Lady Woolf, Baroness Fiona von Thyssen, Gaby Harris-Lyons and Brazilian socialite, Renee Behar.

Princess Diana, Princess Alexandra, Princess Michael of Kent, the Duchess of Kent and Princess Margaret were also clients. Princess Diana needed a dress for her engagement to Prince Charles. A formidable member of staff in Bellville Sassoon didn’t recognize her and suggested Harrods might be more appropriate. When David Sassoon found out, he was horrified.

She did return to Bellville Sassoon to purchase a number of outfits, including the one below:

From The Glamour of Bellville Sassoon by David Sassoon and Sinty Stemp.
From The Glamour of Bellville Sassoon by David Sassoon and Sinty Stemp.

The Princess of Wales arrives  for a 1993 film premiere in Bellville Sassoon’s little black dress, with beaded jewelled straps, one of the glamorous evening dresses that were auctioned at Christie’s New York in 1997.

 From an interview with David Sassoon in the Sunday Telegraph February 17 2013:

Another sketch, for a claret taffeta dress with bows, shows her enthusiasm to have the dress made up, with the words “Yes please!” next to the design, which she subsequently wore to the opening of the Barbican Centre with the Queen in March 1982, when she was six months pregnant.

“We had to let it out at the very last minute because her bump had suddenly grown,” said Sassoon. “She was very excited about the baby but also conscious of looking appropriate for the occasion during her pregnancy.”

Diana Princess of Wales in a maternity gown by Sassoon
Diana Princess of Wales in a maternity gown by Sassoon

 Bellville Sassoon are also famous for their wedding gowns. In April 1971 when Sarah Donaldson-Hudson married Nicholas Haydon at Caxton Hall, she wore Bellville Sassoon, but as she was marrying a divorcee, her mother forbade her to wear white. She wore a hand-painted coat, lined with silk, which had graced the pages of Vogue in November 1970.

 Sarah Donaldson-Hudson on her wedding day with Dorothy Donaldson-Hudson and Lt. Col. Ralph Davies-Cooke 23 April 1971:

From The Wedding Dress: 300 years of bridal fashions by Edwina Ehrman
From The Wedding Dress: 300 years of bridal fashions by Edwina Ehrman

  And the coat as it appeared in Vogue, 1970:

Cream wool crepe coat from the Indian-inspired couture collection, ‘Rajputana’
Cream wool crepe coat from the Indian-inspired couture collection, ‘Rajputana’

Bordered and panelled with exquisite flowers from a Persian miniature. Designed and printed by Richard Cawley and Andrew Whittle, who painted the boots by hand to match.

The coat proved to be very popular. The Glamour of Bellville Sassoon reproduced an article from Women’s Wear Daily 6 October  1970. Rajputana was ordered by ‘a tall member of the Royal Family’, but the name was not to be revealed. Baroness Fiona Von Thyssen (former fashion model Fiona Campbell-Walter) also ordered this costume.

 The Indian theme continues. In The Glamour of Bellville Sassoon, David Sassoon has a picture of Lady Londonderry wearing one of his Indian inspired costumes (in the December 1974 issue of Harpers & Queen, alongside the original picture, her name is given as Mrs Clive Powell. At the time of publication, she was married to Georgie Fame, a pop star, and Clive Powell was his real name.)

Harpers & Queen December 1974
Harpers & Queen December 1974

 Mrs Powell wears blue and coral printed silk georgette long sleeveless dress embroidered in gold, with wide waistband and gathered skirt. Matching printed and embroidered cardigan, with gold sequins.

 More famous clients dressed by Sassoon:

Catherine Deneuve (Mrs David Bailey), Vogue December 1965
Catherine Deneuve (Mrs David Bailey), Vogue December 1965
Actress Julie Christie, Vogue December 1965
Actress Julie Christie, Vogue December 1965

My favorite is the evening dress with gold lame spots on black chiffon:

From Ballgowns: British glamour since 1950 by Oriole Cullen
From Ballgowns: British glamour since 1950 by Oriole Cullen

This was made in 1996 and is in the V&A collection: T.76-1997. In the exhibition, it stands in a glass case, the fabric spreading out in a sumptuous puddle of almost liquid fabric.

You have until 11 January 2014 to visit The Glamour of Bellville Sassoon. Make it a New Year’s resolution!

From Chelsea Reference Library

Magazines

Vogue from 1923 – current issue

Queen from 1949 – 1970

Harpers & Queen 1971 – current issue

For a full list of newspapers and how long we keep them, click here

http://www.rbkc.gov.uk/pdf/public_KULOP_08_2011.pdf

Books

The Glamour of Bellville Sassoon by David Sassoon and Sinty Stemp. Antique Collectors’ Club Ltd, 2008.

Ballgowns: British glamour since 1950 by Oriole Cullen. V&A Publishing, 2012.

The Wedding Dress: 300 years of bridal fashions by Edwina Ehrman. V&A Publishing, 2011

From Club to Catwalk: 80’s fashion talk at the V&A

Friday the 8 November 2013 will be memorable for any number of people for the chaos on the tube. For me, it was the eve of my birthday and I had booked to attend a talk at the Victoria & Albert Museum that was part of their  Club to Catwalk exhibition. The line up was Caryn Franklin, Toyah Willcox and Karen Binns. They complimented each other perfectly, bringing their thoughts, ideas and experiences to a discussion on women who developed, fused and influenced fashion and music in 1980s London.

Caryn Franklin, Toyah Willcox and Karen Binns. Photo by Debby Wale
Caryn Franklin, Toyah Willcox and Karen Binns. Photo by Debby Wale

Caryn Franklin MBE is former Fashion Editor and Co-Editor of i-D Magazine. I immediately remembered her from The Clothes Show. In the Evening Standard Lifestyle Magazine (Print edition: 5 July 2013 ) Caryn writes:

‘There was never any talk of celebrity or success, only credibility and who had it. The style magazines i-D, The Face and Blitz were a triumvirate of street and music fanzines aimed at those with aspirations, attitudes and pretensions to creative grandeur. i-D is still headed by Terry Jones, who gave me my very first job. He put Madonna on the cover before anyone knew who she was. Channel 4’s Swank and Network 7, both programmes I worked on, were appetisers to the BBC’s The Clothes Show. I joined in 1986 with Jeff Banks and Selina Scott, and we covered everything from street style to John Galliano’s earliest work. The Clothes Show reached 157 million homes worldwide for 12 years. And with only four TV channels in the UK, at 5pm on Sunday it was rugby or us.’

Caryn Franklin. Photo by Debby Wale
Caryn Franklin. Photo by Debby Wale

 ‘In a career spanning thirty years Toyah has had thirteen top 40 singles, recorded twenty albums, written two books, appeared in over forty stage plays, made ten feature films and presented such diverse television programmes as The Good Sex Guide Late, Watchdog and Songs Of Praise. Toyah’s influences for her costumes were the Masai, Kabuki and the Mexican day of the dead amongst others. Clothing was like an armour, protective.’ (quote from www.toyahwillcox.com).

Toyah Wilcox with one of her head dresses in the background. Photo by Debby Wale
Toyah Wilcox with one of her head dresses in the background. Photo by Debby Wale
The costumes either end of the display were designed for Toyah by Melissa Caplan. Photo by Debby Wale
The costumes either end of the display were designed for Toyah by Melissa Caplan. Photo by Debby Wale

Karen is from Brooklyn and has worked as a fashion stylist in the pop and fashion industry. She has styled Tori Amos for 20 years. She is also editor and publisher at WHAT MAGAZINE. Karen described how things were in the 80s:

 ‘There was no internet or social media. The clubs were the place to see and be seen. You would use clothes to read each other. There were no courses for stylists. Fashion courses were aimed at those wishing to be designers. You proved your worth using your own personal style and your ability to get attention for the right reason at the right time.There was no copying, individuality ruled – if you saw it on someone else, you got rid of it fast.’

Karens Binns. Photo by Debby Wale
Karens Binns. Photo by Debby Wale

As soon as I got into work on the following Monday, I started my research. Chelsea Reference Library has the V&A book that accompanies the exhibition, From Club to Catwalk: 80s Fashion by Sonnet Standfill, V&A Publishing 2013.

From Club to Catwalk: 80s Fashion
From Club to Catwalk: 80s Fashion

This encapsulates the period with plenty of images – including a cover of i-D magazine:

ID cover, reproduced in From Club to Catwalk
ID cover, reproduced in From Club to Catwalk

From Club to Catwalk has a number of picture credits citing articles in Vogue and Harpers and Queen magazine.

What you see below are two pictures taken from a whole spread that appeared in the magazine. The costume collection at Chelsea Reference Library has Harpers and Queen and Vogue, so you can compare colour plates reproduced in the book with complete article as it appeared in the magazine, giving an added dimension to any research project! Below is a page from Club to Catwalk which helpfully gives the magazine title, month and year. In this case:

From Club to Catwalk: 80s Fashion, page 56
From Club to Catwalk: 80s Fashion, page 56

You can see here the full page spread that the book doesn’t give you – plus a chance to read the whole piece.

Harpers and Queen, December 1984
Harpers and Queen, December 1984

The trend for street style was reflected in Vogue’s Peacock Parade, featuring pictures of London’s punks and clubbers:

Streetstyle, Vogue Sept 1983
Streetstyle, Vogue Sept 1983
The Peacock Parade: punks, Vogue Sept 1983
The Peacock Parade: punks, Vogue Sept 1983

From Vogue September 1983:

‘Street fashion in London is in fine exhibitionist form. No capital in the world harbours such strange, eclectic, individual diversity of appearance. Apparel and appurtenance. Within this kerbside court. Fantasy selves pose and posture, defiance is by design and disguise is a mode of recognition.’

So if you want to refine your own personal aesthetic, why not give Chelsea Reference Library a try?

Magazines

  • Vogue from 1923 – current issue
  • Queen from 1949 – 1970
  • Harpers & Queen 1971 – current issue

Books

  • From Club to Catwalk: 80s Fashion by Sonnet Standfill, V&A Publishing 2013
  • We Can Be Heroes: punks, poseurs, peacocks and people of a particular persuasion. London Clubland 1976-1984 by Graham smith and Chris Sullivan
  • When We Were Young – Derek Ridgers: Club and Street Portraits 1978-1987 by Val Williams
  • Fashion Now – i-D selects the Worlds 150 most important designers by Terry Jones

Join the library to gain access to Berg Fashion online.

Debby Wale
Debby Wale

by Debby Wale, Tri-borough Reference Librarian

Dame Vivienne Westwood

Debby Wale is back – with another fantastic blog post about  our Costume Collection at Chelsea Reference Library. Over to Debby….

In my previous blog about Zandra Rhodes (Zandra Rhodes – Unseen (and seen in Vogue and Harpers and Queen) I mentioned I had been to the ‘Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980s’ exhibition at the V&A Museum.

Zandra Rhodes in The Art of Zandra Rhodes

1977 was the year I became the infamous High Princess of Punk – the darling and the damned of the media, but mostly the latter.  In fact what I was doing wasn’t Punk, but I can’t say that it was that it had nothing to do with it, I called Conceptual Chic – but the press as a voice hailed it as Punk and that’s where it stuck.
It was a journey into London street culture, that’s true,  but as in everything  I do there where many influences at work,  some lurking away in my subconscious, some  staring me in the face,  openly challenging me.

Another of the designers featured in the V&A’s exhibition was Dame Vivienne Westwood, a key figure in the Punk movement. Her partner was Malcolm McLaren, inventor of the Sex Pistols.

From Vogue, August 1987. Article by Liz Jobey

The Queen of the King’s Road arrived on a bicycle. She was wearing a dark grey botany wool twinset with matching sash from her latest collection, a thick cotton knee-length dirndl skirt in red and white, pale grey tights, a pair of square-toed triple tongued grey leather lace-up hip-hop shoes left over from the Hobo year of 1984, and a single string of pearls. She parked under the World’s End clock, it’s backwards whizzing hand stilled before opening time. She was sorry she was late.
Vivienne Westwood, Vogue August 1987
Vivienne Westwood, Vogue August 1987

Shops in King’s Road

A selection of Westwood shops from Vivienne Westwood by Catherine McDermott.

Vivienne Westwood shop fronts taken from Catherine McDermott's book
Vivienne Westwood shop fronts taken from Catherine McDermott’s book

Her first shop was Let It Rock, on the premises of Paradise Garage, further down the King’s Road.

[People] from all over the country, flocked to the shop. In the years that followed, they were replaced by punks fighting for bondage trousers in the mid 1970’s.
Before that it had been Sex, and Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die; after it became World’s End. McLaren had the ideas and Vivienne carried them through.
When she began designing, Westwood adapted existing styles. ‘One day I put a hole for the neck in a T-shirt just here’ – indicating just above the breast – ‘and I knew it would do something with the body in an extremely sexy way. All those ripped things came from picture’s we’d seen of film stars looking really sexy in ripped clothes.
Bondage trousers - image from McDermott's book
Bondage trousers – image from Catherine McDermott’s book

Above images from Harpers & Queens, February 1985

Six years later, in the October 1993 issue of Vogue, we see Queen Viv, (at that time she was an OBE – Westwood advanced to Dame in 2006 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II) when interviewed by Yvonne Roberts wearing:

check pyjamas, white socks, lots of gold chains, white blonde hair. She has a beautiful unmade-up face, long graceful fingers, pale orange eyebrows like delicate tracks in the desert and smokes enough Gitanes to kill off the entire Foreign Legion.

Way Out West

Queen Viv, Harper's & Queens October 1993
Queen Viv, Harper’s & Queens October 1993

Queen Viv is wearing a full satin skirt, matching fitted jacket, gold and diamante earrings and matching choker.

Shoes by Judith Miller

Her shoes are distinctive, and as well as high heels and platforms her bold imagination reinterprets classic forms. Take, for example, this ghillie – an exaggerated interpretation of a traditional Scottish shoe.
However such style can result in catastrophe – supermodel Naomi Campbell stumbled and fell on the catwalk while modelling a pair of super elevated ghillie platforms with 9-inch heels and 4 inch platforms at Westwood’s 1993 fall-winter Anglomania collection in Paris.
Wearing Vivienne Westwood’s high heels – combined with slippery cream rubber stockings they made this a show to remember.

Vogue August 1987 Classic Good Looks

Westwood is also well known for using classic British fabrics such as Harris Tweed, tartan and Scottish cashmere.

Vivienne Westwood, focussing on the admirably staunch image of the Queen, on Harris Tweed. Velvet collars and princess coats and liberty bodices, allows women to appear both part of tradition and romantically, rather sexily modern.

The author of the article, Georgina Godley, says

‘British women are beginning to see fashion subjectively, not dressing for men anymore, but for themselves and other women. They have been given freedom at last, a passport to doing their own thing.
Vogue, August 1987
Vogue, August 1987

Changing the guard: Vivienne Westwood’s about turn with that traditional British uniform, the suit, throwing a few contemporary curves with peplum and Peter Pan collar, scarlet Harris wool and black velvet, gilt buttons down the back, at World’s End, 430 Kings Road SW10.

Vogue, August 1987
Vogue, August 1987

Switch on traditional country clothes and colours: velvet-collared princess coat, new and not entirely well behaved, in Vivienne Westwood’s russet Harris Tweed, cut short to curve and flare out at the back, the velveteen collar and pockets flecked with Lurex, at Worlds end as before.

Westwood in Vogue, 1980s – 1990s

Looking at Westwood’s coverage in Vogue through the late 80’s and early 90’s, the collections continue to be very British and very sexy.

Further reading

If you want to find out more, Chelsea Reference Library’s fashion and costume collection has the above editions of Vogue and Harpers & Queen and an extensive collection of books.

In the library or the comfort of your own home, with a library card you can access Westwood’s design in the Berg Fashion Library online.

Further reading – all titles can be found in the Costume Collection at Chelsea Reference Library:

  • Vivienne Westwood by Terry Jones
  • Vivienne Westwood by  Linda Watson
  • Vivienne Westwood by Gene Krell
  • Vivienne Westwood by Catherine McDermott
  • Vivienne Westwood (VA) by Claire Wilcox
  • Shoes by Judith Miller
Debby Wale
Debby Wale

Debby Wale, TriBorough Reference Librarian

Chelsea Reference Library

Kensington Central Library – August 2013

Kensington Central Library
Kensington Central Library

Hello from us all at Kensington Central Library! Our blog post this month has a pieces from our lending and reference libraries which perfectly illustrates we have something for everyone.

A wizard and ghosts in the children’s library!

As the school holidays are in full swing we’ve had some amazing events for kids in our children’s library to support this year’s Summer Reading Challenge.

Mr Wiz the Wizard came to see us last week – he needed help building his creepy house in the children’s library.  He had plenty of dinosaur eggs (Haribo eggs thankfully!) and balloon animals which he gave out to the children that helped him. The children had a great time as they also had the chance to spin plates, burst bubbles and sing songs.

We’ve been having a story and craft session every Thursday afternoon at 2pm since the start of the summer holidays. We’ve been reading some scary stories and creating some scary things which the children have loved. Last Thursday the children made ghosts by drawing round their hands and spiders from fingerprints. They also came up with some great names for their spiders – Vegeta and Ushar being two of them!

We’ve another story and craft session this Thursday (15 August) & we’ll be making witches – bring the kids along!

Jodie Green, Lending Librarian
Jodie Green

Jodie Green

Lending Librarian

Headlines and back issues

Newspapers
Newspapers

Did you know that we keep a range of current newspapers and magazines in our libraries? We also have a treasure trove in our historical and special collections of back issues of not only current titles but also newspapers and magazines that have long since gone out of print.

Magazines
Magazines

Our most popular titles include:

  • Illustrated London News – going back to 1842
  • Microfiche of The Times – 1785 – 1997
  • Punch – going back to 1841
  • Harpers Bazaar – going back to 1950
  • Vanity Fair  – going back to 1956
  • Vogue  – going back to 1923

A full list of all the newspapers and magazines that we have and how far back we keep them can be found on our ‘Reference and information and special collections’ web page. If you want to check we have issue – do phone us on 020 7361 3010 so we can confirm that the newspaper or magazine you need is available.

Did you know we have newspapers and magazines for children and young adults too? We have reorganised the young adult magazines in the young adult library at Kensington Central Library so that the current issues are in some sturdy green folders and the back issues are now kept in box files on the shelves just behind where the current issues are.  They now look a  lot tidier and more importantly are more accessible.

Sandeep Dhaliwal

Triborough Reference Librarian

Zandra Rhodes – Unseen (and seen in Vogue and Harpers and Queen)

Inspired by visiting various fashion exhibitions recently – Debby Wale, one of our Triborough Reference Librarians has once again been delving into our Costume Collection at Chelsea Reference Library.

Zandra Rhodes - Unseen programme from the Fashion and Textile Museum
Zandra Rhodes – Unseen programme from the Fashion and Textile Museum

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.

Their current exhibition is ‘Zandra Rhodes: Unseen’ and it runs until 31 August 2013. I had already been to the ‘Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980s’ at the V&A. Zandra Rhodes’ career has spanned the decades from the 70’s and 80’s including designing a dress for Princess Diana – which can be seen at the current ‘Fashion Rules’ exhibition at Kensington Palace which I’ve also been to.

Princess Diana and Zandra Rhodes (taken from 'Dressing Diana by Tim Graham and Tamsin Blanchard)
Princess Diana and Zandra Rhodes (taken from ‘Dressing Diana by Tim Graham and Tamsin Blanchard)

Princess Diana wearing the dress designed by Zandra Rhodes
Princess Diana wearing the dress designed by Zandra Rhodes

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

Harpers and Queen, March 2002
Harpers and Queen, March 2002
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.
Harpers and Queen, March 2002
Harpers and Queen, March 2002

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

Harpers and Queen, March 2002
Harpers and Queen, March 2002

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.
Harpers and Queen, March 2002
Harpers and Queen, March 2002

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…..

Vogue, September 1976 (photo by Norman Parkinson)
Vogue, September 1976 (photo by Norman Parkinson)

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, September 1976 (photo by Norman Parkinson)
Vogue, September 1976 (photo by Norman Parkinson)

Vogue’s own motor show

Here’s Jerry Hall in a Zandra Rhodes satin sarong – with a Rover to match!

Vogue, October 1976
Vogue, October 1976
Frilled sarong of pleated satin in whipped cream print, tendrils of rouleaux and gilded cords keeping body and soul together.

West Coast style

Vogue, March 1976
Vogue, March 1976

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
Debby Wale

Debby Wale, Triborough Reference Librarian

Chelsea Reference Library

Further information

  • ‘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
  • Zandra Rhodes Digital Study Collection Project – a blog I can certainly recommend
  • More information about the National Art pass is available on the ArtFund website

Nylon – the manmade fashion revolution

Nylon by Susannah Handley
Nylon by Susannah Handley

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.

Nylon made from castor oil
Nylon made from castor oil

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.

Ballito stockings October 1958
Ballito stockings October 1958

Stockings were an obvious candidate for nylon to replace silk – when they first appeared they were referred to as ‘Nylons’.

Bronze nylons by Bear Brand
Bronze nylons by Bear Brand

Astraka fake fur would please the anti-fur movement today, although I’m not entirely sure that poodle is impressed.

Astraka fake fur
Astraka fake fur

Chiffon was originally made from cotton – here is a selection of California Nylon Chiffon ads from Vogue, 1958

California nylon chiffon
California nylon chiffon

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!’

California nylon chiffon
California nylon chiffon
California nylon chiffon
California nylon chiffon

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.

Flame free nylon mid Sept 1958
Flame free nylon mid Sept 1958

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.

Courtelle advert in Vogue
Courtelle advert in Vogue
Orlon lady drinking coffee
Orlon lady drinking coffee
Courtelle lady smoking
Courtelle lady smoking

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.

Shop for the Shade
Shop for the Shade
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.
Wolsey Ban-lon
Wolsey Ban-lon

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.

Electric Textiles »by Bradley Quinn

Techno Fashion

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.

Debby Wale
Debby Wale

Debby Wale, Triborough Reference Librarian

Chelsea Library

The Chelsea Blog – April 2013

Chelsea Library
Chelsea Library

Hello from us all at Chelsea Library! Chelsea Children’s Library has been very busy as we ran a number of successful children’s events over the school holidays. This month we’re starting a new mini series on The Chelsea Blog – some interesting  facts about Chelsea Reference Library.

Children’s events

Our events this month tied in with the London wide Cityread London campaign. This year’s book is ‘A Week In December’ by Sebastian Faulks. We tailored our craft events to themes in the novel.

Chelsea Children's Library City Reads
A London Underground bookmark

For our first event we prepared materials with a London Underground and football theme. Boys and girls relished making their very own designed bookmarks.

A football bookmark
A football bookmark
Another football bookmark!
Another football bookmark

And as you can see the results were impressive! The children then gathered around for a Thomas the Tank engine story.

Easter crafts
Easter crafts

Our next event was on the lines of an Easter egg hunt only this time we used miniature chocolate footballs. First of all the children cut out a card template and then assembled with glue a little Easter basket . This was then filled with shredded paper to resemble straw.

An Easter bunny mask
An Easter bunny mask

We hid clues for the hunt  throughout the children’s library  and   excitedly the boys and girls went off in search of the chocolate balls. We then read ‘Football crazy’ by Colin  McNaughton.

Baby rhyme time was exciting this month as it had a London theme  too – we all sang:

  • London Bridge is falling down
  • Oranges and lemons
  • Pussy cat, pussy cat where have you been?
  • Do you know the muffin man?

Everyone joined in and promised to come to storytime the next day where we continued the London theme – we adapted ‘Puss in Boots’ and  to a London setting and the Marquis of Carabas became the Marquis of Sloane Square  and the river in the story changed to the Thames.

Details of when our children’s events are can be found on the ‘What’s on page’ on our website.

Rob Symmons

Lending Librarian

Great facts about Chelsea Reference Library

#1.The Fashion Collection

 Chelsea Reference Library has an extensive collection of fashion books as well as a large archive of fashion magazines dating back to 1924.

Traditional costume
Traditional costume

The book collection covers a wide range of subjects such as costume and fashion history, regional and national costumes, occupational attire, military uniforms and different types of accessories including jewellery, shoes, hats etcetera. Our fashion books are beautifully illustrated and have great content. The fashion and costume collection is widely used by students from Chelsea College of Art and Design based in Chelsea as well as other library users with a particular interest in fashion.

Vogue Magazine - January 2013
Vogue Magazine – January 2013

Our magazine archives include Vogue Magazine (1923 till present) Harper’s Bazaar (1950 till present, albeit with a small gap in the sequence) and L’Officiel (1947-2001). We also have a small collection of Manufacturing Clothier (1973-1988) and Vogue USA.

More information can be found on our costume collection web page.

The Chelsea Reference Library Staff