Susan North: The [V&A] collection of fashion is nationally accredited and the textile collection is probably one of the most comprehensive in the world. What’s really in our favour is the breadth, I think you’d be hard pressed to find another museum that had quite as many different types of textiles – including embroidery, silk, wool and also there’s a small component of early printed cottons.
So this is a style of embroidery called ‘Opus Anglicanum’ which is Latin for ‘English work’ and it was done during the Middle Ages from about 1100 [AD] onward. These are very ornate, elaborate embroideries that were used to decorate the vestments worn by the priest in various church ceremonies.
This is an example of a woven silk from about the 1750s. It’s very typical of design of this period - what you call ‘the Rococo’– with these very curving floral trails. There are various techniques used in the silk and differences in the texture of the weave, which creates an entirely different pattern in the same colour as the silk.
This is a pair of gloves from the early 17th century, probably about 1600 to 1625. As you can see, these are very elaborate and probably associated with somebody at court, perhaps given to a courtier as a gift. Gloves were a very popular form of gift, certainly at this time.