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

St. Barbara

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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geta fur1

Clogs perfect for Christmas

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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Detail of propaganda kimono

A year at the Clothworkers’ Centre

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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Invitation to our interview with DvF © V&A Collection

Bohemian Wrapsody

A very special guest will be on her way to the V&A next week. On Thursday 6th November, Diane von Furstenberg is paying us a visit to talk about her ongoing career of over forty years as a leading fashion designer and icon. Diane started her career in fashion design in 1970. Two years later, […]

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Courtesy of Ralph & Russo ©

Ralph & Russo: Let the Glamour Begin

Weddings and fashion shows have something key in common. When attending either, guests wait in excited anticipation for a grand entrance, and a first sighting of The Dress. On Friday, these elements will combine, as the couturiers Ralph & Russo join us at the museum to put on a very special event for our Fashion […]

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doublet

Doublet-dealing

This morning we welcomed to Blythe House a visitor from the Emerald Isle, looking at a selection of 16th and 17th century objects; two caps, a doublet, embroidered sleeve and the famous Margaret Layton jacket, hoping to learn something about their construction.     Let’s take a closer look at that doublet, which is laying […]

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T.10:1-2006, Stole
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Society Swans

Last week I came across a box in the collection and, on opening it, discovered that nestled inside were swan’s wings. On further investigation I found that it was in fact a swan wing stole, comprising of two wings, presumably a left wing and a right wing, lined with quilted blue satin on the underside. […]

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T.361:17-1998; T.361:18-1998; T.361:19-1998; T.361:20-1998 Four accessories for paper dolls; from The History of Miss Wildfire; British; 1832. Card & watercolour.

The History of Miss Wildfire

I have spent part of the morning looking at a very interesting object in the Textiles and Fashion collection. It is a manuscript, written in rhyme, by a girl named Anne Sanders Wilson. She wrote it for her sister, Mary Wilson, in October 1832. It is ten pages long and is inscribed in a precise, […]

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Detail of 303-1887, showing a horseman (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London

ZAXAPIOY, where are you?

This morning I oversaw an appointment for a PhD student studying some of our archaeological textiles. The glitzy, fabulous V&A might not seem the most obvious residence for objects of this type. In fact a visitor might even be inclined to think that the venerable British Museum, who have recently audited and rehoused their Egyptian […]

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Skull-and-crossbones toxicity warning sign on V&A hats which are thought to have unacceptable levels of mercury in them

How to Avoid Becoming As Mad as a Hatter, or The Pirate’s Curse!

Some visitors might find being presented with a hat kept inside a strong plastic bag, emblazoned with a skull-and-crossbones and the word ‘TOXIC‘ in big authoritative letters, a little alarming. Perhaps they would be led to think that we had turned buccaneer, or perhaps that Captain Kidd‘s most cherished secret, the one that he took to […]

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