March Study Day - The Georgians

March Study Day - The Georgians

Saturday 21 March 2015

The Georges are coming!

2014 is the three hundredth anniversary of the Hanoverian Dynasty. George Ludwig, Elector of Hanover was crowned King George I in 1714 and by 1830 Great Britain had had four kings named George. A little late in catching up with the celebrations WECS will look at the dress of this astonishing period of British history - from pannier to hoop, from breeches to pantaloons.

Rosemary Harden - Georgians Dress for Polite Society
Fashion was one of the cornerstones of gracious living in the 18th century and this lecture by Rosemary, curator of the Fashion Museum in Bath, will showcase some of the beautiful and interesting surviving examples of women’s dress from this fascinating period in dress history. Rosemary will draw on the Fashion Museum’s current exhibition Georgians, and will also suggest new insights into who may have worn one of the grand court dresses on display in the exhibition.
Rosemary is well known to WECS members having previously been the society’s chair as well as giving many insightful lectures into the history of fashion. She is the author of Fashion Museum: Treasures,and Floral Frocks.

To gain further understanding of how these dresses were decorated we then meet Rosie Taylor-Davies - It is all in the detail: narratives discovered through the study of eighteenth-century embroidery.
The eighteenth-century embroiderer used the services of many other skilled craftsmen in order to be able to work his magic on the sumptuous cloth available in England at this time. This paper will not only look at the work of the embroiderer and how to identify different hands, the design style, the threads used and the popular stitch techniques, but will also give a glimpse into the work practices of the Pattern Drawer, the Gold and Silver Wyre Drawer and the silk specialists, among others associated with this prestigious trade.
Rosie has worked in costume for theatre, film and television, and also commercial and bespoke garment-production. Her specialism is history of dress with a particular interest in embroidery. She studied embroidery and conservation at the Royal School of Needlework, Hampton Court Palace where she was formerly Head of the Commercial Studio and she is currently engaged in doctoral studies concerning the 18th century embroidery trade in England.

Male dress, particularly court dress, was equally flamboyant during this century but the rapid expansion of the world of business marked the change towards the practical clothing of the business-man by the beginning of the next century. David Wilcox will tell us the fascinating story of Thomas Coutts: a Georgian case study. When the banker Thomas Coutts died in 1822, his relatively young widow stored his clothes in camphor, perhaps in memory of her late husband. Unusually, Harriot Coutts packed away what seems to have been the majority of his wardrobe, rather than simply a few items of sentimental value. Why she stored such a large collection is unclear and perhaps time and re-marriage dissolved her original purpose. It was not until 1907 that this time capsule was disturbed, when Coutts’ great-grandson offered a loan of the clothes to the Victoria and Albert Museum. The V&A’s acceptance of the initial loan led to a further offer of almost the entire collection as a gift. Thus began the preservation of Coutts’ wardrobe in the museum system, but also the widespread distribution of the clothes to the USA, to Canada and to museums around Britain. This talk will examine the contents and history of Thomas Coutts’ wardrobe, looking at its relationship to men’s fashionable clothing of the early 19th century and what it tells us of Coutts’ personal life.
David Wilcox teaches on the Performance Costume Design course at Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh. His area of research interest is the cut and construction of European men’s clothing across the period 1600-1850. He has examined and recorded the cut of surviving garments in many costume collections, both national and local, and has published essays on some of these studies in Costume journal.

From the sober world of Thomas Coutts we return to the fripperies of the Georgian lady. A lady’s outfit would be incomplete without accessories and so we welcome Althea MacKenzie to talk on Fashion and Style: 18th Century Hats and Bonnets.
Althea is a curator for the National Trust with responsibility for the care of the Charles Wade Paget Collection or what is sometimes called The Snowshill Collection housed at Berrington Hall in Herefordshire. Charles Paget championed the Arts and Crafts Movement and avidly collected 18th and 19th century costume of which there are some exquisite pieces in the collection. With limited space for display many of these pieces are rarely seen and Althea will guide us through the wonderful range of hats and bonnets that reflect the 18th Century. Author of two delightful books Hats and Bonnets and Shoes and Slippers that are now collectors’ items, Althea has recorded some of the collection’s most beautiful pieces. Althea is also curator of the Hereford Museum textile collection.

Make sure you don’t miss ‘Dress of Polite Society’ at the Fashion Museum in Bath.

The report on this event is included in the Spring 2015 issue of WECS Wardrobe.

Magazine Cover