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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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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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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2006AC7414

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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Tex Con_08_03_12

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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