Hi, I am Sonnet Stanfill I am one of the fashion curators in the department of Furniture, Fashion and Textiles at the V& A. We’ re here in room 40, the fashion gallery and I am going to show you a couple of highlights of the collection. We are going to walk around the fashion gallery a little bit and I am going to point out on the way some of these cases are organised. On the left we have this wonderful array of evening wear for men and women showcasing the idea of clothes worn for dressing up. Then we have, in this case over here one of my favourite displays: a chronological display of underwear across the centuries which includes things like this green banyan from the 1750s. Also some wonderfully sculptured under garments like the crinoline from the 1860s, these two very decorative bussles covered in cotton but lined with horse hair, and a very whimsical garment. This corset which was marketed at the time as a kind of healthy option because it was so called a ventilated corset you can see this lattice like design allowed for air circulation. We are standing in front of Diana’ s (Diana Princess of Wales) dress, a design that was worn in 1989 when she went to Hong Kong as part of an ambassadorial trip. She commissioned it from Catherine Walker, who is a London based designer with whom Diana worked very closely over the years. I think what is obvious and most noticeable when you look at the dress is that it is absolutely encrusted with fresh water pearls, and the bolero style of the jacket with its very high collar, evoked for Diana the idea of Elvis and Elvis in his later years. So she came to call this dress her ‘ Elvis dress’ . We are very pleased to have it in the collection. It’ s the only example worn by Diana that we have and it certainly highlights a wonderful collaboration between Diana, a very iconic fashion figure and Catherine Walker who was one of her most important and trusted designers. In conclusion what the visitor will see when they come to the fashion gallery is not necessarily a chronology of dress from 1600 to now, but rather a window into fashion history, and because we have organised the gallery around themes we hope that the visitor will get a sense of what Men and Women were wearing to go to work, to dress up in the evenings, to entertain and also there are some examples of what you might see underneath.
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