Textiles and Fashion


The V&A holds the national collection of Textiles and Fashion, which spans a period of more than 5000 years, from Predynastic Egypt to the present day. The collection is one of the world’s largest and the most wide-ranging. More than 75,000 individual objects or sets of objects are cared for jointly by the Asian Department and the Furniture, Textiles and Fashion Department, from a broad geographic area covering Europe, South, South East, East and Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas.

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Trench coats: from real mud to Nostalgia of Mud

Raincoat 'Witches' 1983 Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren Given by David Barber, in memory of Rupert Michael Dolan T.268:1, 2-1991 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

‘Rustic’ linen smock-shirts were worn by farmhands well into the 19th century. These garments were woven in such a way that they would shrink and tighten when damp, giving them a degree of water resistance: this is also the principle on which gabardine works. Gabardine was invented by Thomas Burberry, who patented it in 1879. With […]

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Unrivalled Shoe Archive

Rope sandals

The V&A has an amazing collection of shoes, well over 2,000 pairs spanning over 3,000 years from across the world. Majority of the shoes once belonged to the upper echelons of the society, the best and most extreme in shoe designs, but there are also some footwear that originally clad the feet of farmers and workers. Although […]

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A very brief history of staying dry

E.1240-1931 Poster No Wet - No Cold; 'No Wet - No Cold'. Colour lithograph poster with a stylised graphic design of umbrellas, advertising the London Underground Railways. Designed by Manner and issued by the Underground Electric Railways Co. of London, Ltd., 1929. Manner Underground Electric Railways Co. of London, Ltd. London 1929 Colour lithograph © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

As I said in the first post, to stay dry is a very human wish (unless of course you subscribe to the ‘aquatic ape’ theory put forward by some natural historians); so how did people keep the rain off in the olden days?     There is evidence that aboriginal Americans were the first true […]

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Forecasting rain

MISC.215:1-1988; Red rubber wellington boots; Dunlop, ca. 1959. Held by the Museum of Childhood © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

    The V&A’s Textiles and Fashion collection holds tens of thousands of objects and is one of the most comprehensive collections of its type in the world. Researching this huge collection is one of the greatest pleasures of my job but, being a busy boy, I cannot devote as much time to research as […]

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Into each life some rain must fall

E.524:493-2001
Postcard
Va benone...ecco che piove!; Postcard, Milford Haven Collection, 'Va benone...ecco che piove!', Man putting up his umbrella against 'rain' caused by dog urinating, lithograph, Italian, ca.1904
Italy
Ca. 1904
Lithograph
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

  If, like me, you have been a victim of Britain’s unpredictable and frequently inclement weather you may have observed two things:   British people have a tendency to discuss the weather frequently and at great length. A lot of time has been expended trying to find methods to stay dry.     The first […]

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Start as you mean to go on

Evening Dress by Balenciaga, 1962

While I was studying for my MA, I used to use research trips to London as an excuse to head to the V&A. In particular, since I obviously always ended up in the Fashion Gallery, I used to ‘visit’ a dress by Balenciaga. The Fashion Gallery case displays are rotated and changed every few years, […]

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Hunting for Treasure

T.61-1972 - Tapestry designed by Jean Lurcat, 1963-64

Acting as a link between our stores and galleries, the North Court Store has served as a temporary home to many objects as they enter our Textiles and Fashion collection or are at the ready to go on display. As the space is soon to be converted as part of the V&A’s FuturePlan project, we […]

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St. Barbara

T.13-1937, embroidered picture of St. Barbara, probably a 20th century forgery © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Today, almost three weeks late, I present St. Barbara, another spurious Roman saint. She is said to have been born in the mid-3rd century, her father was wealthy, overbearing and pagan. He kept her locked in a tower to protect her from the world, but could not prevent her from secretly becoming a Christian and […]

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Clogs perfect for Christmas

geta fur1

The traditional simple wooden clog, called geta, comprise of a raised wooden base and fabric thong to keep the foot well elevated above the ground. They look a little bit like wooden flip flops on stilts. The geta, worn in Japan by both women and men with clothing such as the kimono, originally had a practical function; elevating […]

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A year at the Clothworkers’ Centre

Detail of propaganda kimono

It’s now been a year since Clothworkers’ opened. To celebrate, we held a conference on the 23rd and 24th of October which looked at the breadth of new research emerging from the Centre. Across cultures and periods, from carpets to collaborations with twenty-first century fashion designers, the conference highlighted the huge range of research which […]

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