Ahead of this week’s lace workshop I thought that I would share with you a recent visit to Bankfield Museum in Halifax. I have visited the museum three times before and it is always a wonderful place to explore. Two of the visits have included displays about Anne Lister, now more well known through the TV series ‘Gentleman Jack’, but also for her travels and her diaries.
I first became interested in her as a traveller and I posted about that visit here. At the time there was not a link to her clothing as this was prior to the first series, but a couple of years ago we went back and saw some of the costumes from the first series. The museum is only small but as well as the changing exhibitions it has a fantastic costume gallery and holds the largest collection of textiles outside the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
The exhibition this time was of costume from the second TV series. It was also supported by an exhibition of garments from the same period from the museum collection so it was fascinating to see what the costume production team had done with the recreations. The pictures below are from the museum’s collection from that era.
It was particularly amazing to see the very tiny shoes!
I also love the fact that they still have pattern books from that time. Halifax has always been a centre of textile production which is why the museum has such an extensive collection.
These pictures show the costumes from the second series, each costume is also accompanied by a shot from the series so that you can see it in context.
They are absolutely stunning and so detailed in their execution. This below is one of Anne’s outfits and the braid detail on the jacket is beautiful.
The accompanying outfit in this picture was worn by her wife Ann, I have tried to do braid like that on clothing and it is incredibly difficult!
I love the black organza blouse in this red evening gown above.
There is such beautiful smocking on Ann’s artist’s shirt above in the middle picture.
The bottom row of pictures above show dressing gowns and nightshirts, I would love the one on the left, so pretty!
I was particularly fascinated by these reproduction hats with lots of lace.
I think the lace on this one above was made by the same method that we will be using this coming week, of stitching onto tulle, rather than bobbin or woven lace but am not sure.
One of the things that Anne is remembered for is her ‘masculine ways’, she dressed in male clothing, married a woman, (although this was not legally recognised), ran a business and travelled extensively, often to places that were not usually visited at that time, such as Russia. She actually died in Georgia while on that trip in 1840 and her wife had her body brought back to the UK.
For me Anne is a very great inspiration. Not just because she chose to dress the way that she did, but because she was not afraid to express herself, and her desires. Looking at her story one may think that we have come a long way from the days where it was not acceptable to marry and live your life as you wanted, but there is still a long way to go, even for people who are not fighting prejudice.
There are the everyday concerns of women about travelling on their own, even about walking home on their own. As you know this summer I have been travelling on my own around the UK and met many women who are also on their own. People have told me that I am very brave to do this but I just feel that I am following in the footsteps of all the other great women who have gone off exploring. Realistically not very much is going to happen to me at a Caravan and Camping Club site in the Peak District is it 😉
I have also joined a Facebook group that supports women who may not feel comfortable travelling alone, by holding meet ups and offering a space for advice and help with practical things. Many of the members have lost partners, who previously did the driving and maintenance, or are now feeling lonely and don’t want to camp by themselves. It is wonderful to have that support, both online and in person and I am looking forward to meeting up with more of them next summer.
I may now be able to wear what we want without causing concern, I can wear trousers anywhere I want, or have my hair short and display many ‘masculine ways’. However many women across the world can’t do without fear of reprisal. Equally men often face prejudice for wanting to wear what may be considered as ‘feminine attire’. That is why I love the Steampunk community so much as you see such wonderful expressions of dress such as this stunning outfit.
What we wear is not just about keeping warm, or displaying our social status and our ability to afford the fine lace and hand stitched garments of the 1800s. It is about who we are, and who we want to be and here’s hoping for a future where no-one feels that they can’t express themselves the way that they want to. That is before we all end up wearing silver jumpsuits as my 12 year old self was sure was going to happen by the year 2000!
That is why museums are so important as they give us the chance to see things that make us question the way that we live now. I hope that everyone that goes to see the costumes thinks about this aspect as well as admiring the skill of the many talented people who made them.
As well as the workshop this week I am looking forward to another cycle ride, I have been doing between 25 and 30 km each ride which is amazing to me considering the state of my health before I retired. It is so lovely to get out into the countryside and go down to the sea. It is still around 25 degrees each day here, although the nights are a little cooler now so I will soon be using my outdoor firepit 🙂 Although it has sometimes been a bit cloudy here it is clearing up and so the lovely sunsets are back, just look at these colours!
I have been very productive craft wise as well, I will finish the Luna rabbit today and hopefully also the Christmas dress for the reindeer. So I should be able to share some finishes of those soon. I hope that you are all having a nice weekend, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.
2 thoughts on “The importance of dress”
I hope we never end up with a uniform of silver jumpsuits – as you say, clothes offer such scope for individuality and self expression. It’s good that costume designers put more thought into costuming now, too.
Me too! I don’t have the figure for a jumpsuit, mind you I thought it would come with a personal spaceship as well. The costumes were wonderful, especially given that many would not be seen in much detail, and in candlelight.