V&A Blythe House, Clothworkers’ Centre

The visit to the V&A Clothworkers’ Centre allowed us to personally view garments from past eras close up.

I have been finding that the Culture & Context module is a beneficial partner to the Fashion Trend Analysis course in that they both rely on linking contemporary PESTEL factors to the clothing produced at a certain time. For example, the changing silhouettes of women’s dresses in the late 1950s to the 1960s is an extreme representation of this.

We were shown an evening gown by Balmain (1957) and could visually compare it to an Andre Courreges piece (1965).

Pierre Balmain (1957)

Andre Courreges (1967)

The two examples would both be for a young woman of the time, yet are completely contrasting in style and cut. The A-line, shift dress points to the sexual emancipation and liberation of women during this period, which allowed for significantly shorter hemlines.  Technological developments can also be seen in the use of new materials such as iridescent perspex in the centre of the embroidered daisies.

Mary Quant (L-R: 1965 & 1966)

Mary Quant took this further by creating an affordable, Ready-To-Wear range in her King’s Road store. This would have been a reaction to the economic factors at the time, and perhaps also social developments surrounding the location, since it was a cultural hub for young people at the time.

Angela Jones (Culture & Context course leader) explained that in relation to the birth of the mini-skirt, Quant admits to reacting to the customer’s needs rather than taking the credit for its invention. Young women were shortening their hems themselves, asking that she provide the style for them. In an interview with the Sunday Mirror she said, “It all started in Chelsea, really. There was this sort of mood; rules were there to be broken” (BBC.co.uk, 2014).

This idea ties very prominently to consumer behaviour trends that I am currently becoming aware of. It highlights the importance of street style in identifying behaviours and reinforces our “cool-hunting” task. The quote above stood out to me as it seems to resonate with our current time period.

Sources:

http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O74965/evening-dress-pierre-balmain/

http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O15642/dress-courreges-andre/

http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O121963/ensemble-dress-jumper-quant-mary/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/culture/story/20140523-short-but-sweet-the-miniskirt

Jones, A. (2016), Fashion in … [Workshop]. Blythe House, London.

 

 

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