Of the huge array of materials used to create fashion, many are drawn from the animal kingdom. To learn more about their use in relation to some of the objects in our fashion collections, we worked with colleagues at London's Natural History Museum to explore materials from two very different sources – whales and jewel beetles.
Whale and ‘whalebone’
Richard Sabin, the Principal Curator of Mammals and an expert on whales, dolphins and porpoises explains what 'whalebone' really is, contrasting its use for making an umbrella frame with a walking cane carved from the tooth and jaw bone of a sperm whale.
Beetle curator Max Barclay shares specimens from his collection and talks about why jewel beetles were so popular for decorating dress, their vivid colour and how they were collected.