The Clothworkers’ Centre

The Clothworkers’ Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion is located at Blythe House, at Olympia in West London. The aim of the Clothworkers’ Centre is to provide the best possible access to the Museum’s outstanding collection of textiles and fashion in a relaxed and peaceful environment.

Here we will share our discoveries, star objects, news and miscellaneous goings-on.

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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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Pair of shoes, Roger Vivier for Balenciaga, ca. 1967, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Vivier Party Plastic

These shoes were acquired by the Museum in 1974 as part of an evening outfit, and had been displayed in 1972 with that ensemble in Cecil Beaton‘s groundbreaking V&A exhibition ‘Fashion: An Anthology‘.     What’s interesting about them is the innovative use of materials and the co-ordination, materially and stylistically, with the rest of […]

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A reintroduction (and warmed babies)

This is the inaugural post of the new-style Clothworkers’ Centre blog. If you self-identify as a Knitwit or a Fan of Fans (a fanfan), read on, and even if you would not prod a Velveteenage Dirtbag with a stick, you might learn something (although probably not from me). We will use this as a rostrum to announce […]

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Clothworkers’: fabulous facilities

The Clothworkers’ Centre is home not just to tens of thousands of museum objects, but is also quarters from which they can be cared for and prepared for loan or display.                 the new studio, before and after © Victoria and Albert Museum, London   A team of V&A conservators […]

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Clothworkers’ Christmas Countdown, part 4

Although it’s only two days now until it’s time to celebrate the birth of the Saviour by wrapping pork with pork, I have found that my Christmas spirit is not what it was three weeks ago. To avoid Christmas 2013 becoming a total humbug, and to deflect any notional suggestion that I might also be […]

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Clothworkers’ Christmas Countdown, part 3

Season’s greetings! I know you’re probably all busy sitting on the Christmas cake or whatever it is you have to do, though if I may steal a few of your rested festive moments, which I see you are spending in front of the internet, to encourage you to consider exactly what it is that makes […]

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Clothworkers’ Christmas Countdown, part 2

If there’s one thing that working at the V&A has taught me, it’s that established systems can prove to be robust and to have great constancy. Having conceded that fact, my pattern and formula for this week’s festive post might in part seem a little familiar. woven silk toy, Marth Edlin ca. 1670, museum no. T.449-1990, […]

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Clothworkers’ Christmas Countdown, part 1

Friends have been proclaiming for weeks an infatuation with sherry; a love so regular one could rely on ones calendar to inform on its ascendancy and decline. We feel that nagging guilt of unfulfilled resolutions, made so sincerely hours into 2013, and yet neglected like living herbs for the past eight to eleven months. That […]

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Clothworkers’: Who Unframed Historic Fabric?

If you’re reading this, then you can probably guess how difficult it must be to interpret, unlock and care for the collections of the V&A. The amazing eclecticism and range possessed by our objects means that public access to objects and resources, and the provision of information about them, is of great importance if they […]

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Clothworkers’: First Week

After half a decade in the making, this week the Department of Furniture, Textiles & Fashion welcomed its first public appointments at the Clothworkers’ Centre. A mixture of students, scholars and workers from the heritage industry have viewed, amongst them, Ethiopian Imperial robes, 1930s underwear, 19th century embroidered samplers and the Tailor of Gloucester waistcoat. Toward the weekend, we have more samplers and […]

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