Sarah Glenn

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Dress, designed by Madeline Vionnet, 1937. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Conservation of a Vionnet Dress

This beautiful dress was designed by Madeline Vionnet in 1937 and was given to the V&A in 1968 by Cecil Beaton. It will be on display in the Horst: Photographer of Style exhibition, due to open in September 2014. The dress will be one of 9 other examples of French couture from the 1930s, reflecting […]

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Revealed: Creating undergarments for a Gucci dress

The Peek-a-Boo evening dress, so called because of its revealing cut out feature and provocatively low neckline, was designed by Tom Ford for Gucci’s Autumn/Winter 2004/5 collection, Ford’s last collection for Gucci. The dress is made of white silk jersey and gathers the plunging neckline with the help of a round ornament with two dragon’s […]

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Well Heeled: Consolidating and stabilising a shoe sole

This shoe (T.143-1983) was made by Magli in cream patent leather with a polyurethane (ester) heel. The sole of the heel had become brittle and had broken into pieces. A tracing of the shape of the sole was taken to help fit the pieces together. Luckily most of the sole remained! A strong adhesive was […]

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Conserving a Pucci classic

This bikini with a classic Pucci pattern required an interventive treatment and mounting process before it could be displayed in the upcoming exhibition. The polyurethane foam padding in the bust had severely degraded and had become brittle and powdery. This had caused the bust to become stiff and deformed and the foam had begun to […]

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It’ll never last…. A Ferragamo patent shoe

Written by Sarah Glenn, Textile Conservator This Ferragamo ‘Vara’ pump shoe (T.91-1988) is going on display next year in The Glamour of Italian Fashion: 1945-2014. Ferragamo patent leather shoe © Victoria and Albert Museum, London Made of patent leather in 1986, it has never been worn and has a perspex last (most likely the original […]

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Seeing the Unseen

Part of a Conservator’s job is to identify the materials used to create objects. One way of ‘seeing the unseen’ is by using X-radiography, which can reveal some interesting things about an object. X-rays can help to identify the construction, manufacturing techniques and materials of an object, which in turn helps to inform us about what […]

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From Club to Catwalk: From Studio to Gallery

Conservation and costume mounting work on the soon-to-be-open display of Club to Catwalk: Fashion from the 1980s is coming to fruition. Objects and mannequins are making their way from the textile conservation studio to the temporary display space, in the centre of the Fashion and Textile Galleries (Gallery 40). Conservation work and costume mounting began […]

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The Helmet

The helmet was treated by Andy Thackeray, an intern in Furniture Conservation. He describes his treatment below. – Cracked and lifting lacquer on the iron substrate rim of the helmet bowl, and where lifting from the iron supporting bars of the neck plates (ita jikoro), were consolidated with an application of xylene followed by a 10% solution of Paraloid B48N in xylene. If moving they were clamped either by lightweight clamps or using a shimbari system. Cracked and lifting lacquer on the leather substrate of the ita jikoro plates was consolidated with 10% and where appropriate, 20% Mowilith 50 in …

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The head and arms

The head and arms of the Iki-ningyo were treated by Sofia Marques in sculpture conservation and Richard Mulholland in paper conservation. It appears that there is a very fine top layer applied to the flesh colour. This is possibly known as ‘nikawa’ and is made of animal glue and fine pigments. It is water soluble. The layer on the face of this living doll seems to have been disturbed, possibly during attempts to clean the surface in the past. Any intervention will disturb this layer, so it was decided not to touch it after all. Although it would have been …

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Sleeves

The sleeve on the armour was in the worst condition (in terms of the textiles) of all the pieces that made up the armour, and required the most intricate treatment. The silk damask was very brittle and had begun to split. In some areas the fibres had been lost altogether and the metal thread was also very brittle. The conservation challenge was to stabilise these areas but with limited access to the inside of the sleeve, all of the support fabric would have to be inserted through the split. This is where having a steady hand comes in very useful! …

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