Tag Archive | v&a

Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood

So sewing is currently going at snails pace. I’m not really ill anymore (more than usual) but partly we’ve just been really busy, partly we’ve decided August is a good time to spring clean the flat.

Anyway, 2 weekends ago we decided to go out for the day to the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood. It is not a museum I would normally have bothered with, except they had a free dollhouse exhibition that was closing soon & Jon had never been before, & I hadn’t been since I was 11 so we thought we’d give it a try.

The Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood is technically part of the Victoria and Albert museum, but it was set up in the early 20th century, by a load of illustrious people including Queen Mary, who was a massive patron, in order to give the poor children of the East End access to finer things. However as we walked round Jon & I speculated that being able to look at but not play with the sort of toys much richer children enjoyed is probably going to set a child firmly on the course to socialism, which may not have been the outcome the illustrious patrons were envisaging.

The first thing we noticed when we walked in was how quiet it was actually. Although obviously given the name, the museum is very much child friendly, I wouldn’t actually say it was by any means soley a children’s museum. I found the content & the behaviour of the children there a lot less irritating than for example pretty much the whole of the Natural History Museum or the Launch Pad at the Science Museum. There are areas for children to play and go off and one and scream, but they are in the corners of the building and for the most part quite removed from the main displays which are in fairly haphazardly curated old fashioned glass cases.

In the foyer there was an exhibition on Alice in Wonderland, including clothes, for adults and children inspired by the book, in one case was a full AATP lolita outfit…

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The outfit was much better presented than when my mum and I went to the V&A exhibition the model used was actually the right hight, the dress wasn’t 3 inches above its knees, & it was much better coordinated.

There was a lot of modern stuff in the exhibition, well I say modern, I mean stuff from our childhoods till about 10 years ago, however being in glass cases with little labels makes everything look a bit old and shabby, I was especially shocked at how dated the Harry Potter merch and Barbie stuff looked. Jons highlight of the entire museum was an old early 90’s Amstrad computer which was his first one, & he had a load of the games that were exhibited with it.

What I was really there for, & what I took a load of pictures of is all the dollhouses and 18th & 19th century toys though. They are so beautiful.

Here be pictures…..( it was virtually impossible to get shots without reflections from the cases which was a shame)

IMG_4422IMG_4412 IMG_4393 IMG_4396 IMG_4415IMG_4387  IMG_4418 IMG_4390 (1)

 

Anyway, I am failing miserably at getting those to format in an attractive way, so apologies for the crap layout.

I would highly recommend the Museum of Childhood though to anyone into Victoriana or Lolita or even just to nostalge about ones childhood without hoards of screaming kids.

I am free from Wednesday onwards next week, so hopefully will be able to get on with the blasted dress I am working on. & normal sewing blogging will be resumed!

 

 

museums and fine dining…..and a massive rant about Lolita fashion!

Despite having to stop due to a mega cold at the end of last week I have actually been sewing and completed one new dress, however my mum couldn’t get any photos of it today whilst we were out, my camera has the longest exposure time ever, and my mum has hypoglaecemia so gets a bit wobbly, so bad combination, so I will have to wait for Jon to come home from band rehearsal much later tonight to get a picture of it.

Today I took the day off to go to the V&A with my mum though. Well it was sort of the day off, it was also sort of a research trip.

First up we hit the Ballgowns Exhibition in the newly tarted up Fashion Gallery. Have to say it was awesome. So amazing to see Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen and Hardy Amies dresses in the flesh and to get a good look at them. Favourites were the first dress I saw, can’t remember who by, but made for the Queen Mother in the <s>18</s> 1950’s, and a late seventies 50’s style prom dress number with kind of quilted satin done up with pastel representations of a fairy story painted and written all over it, actually really contemporary to whats going on in street fashion right now.

Biggest problem with the exhibition was the dummies, as far as size goes, yeah they were all thin, but as most of the dresses downstairs were couture from actual peoples actual collections rather than designers samples they were on reasonable shaped dummies. However whoever had posed them had decided to do so in the most bizarre catwalk poses, including one I can only describe as the time warp…

 

which is not a way to make any outfit look attractive, no matter how beautifully made. I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m as much an aficionado of Americas Next Top Model as anyone else, but i was under the impression that those kinds of poses were there to break the monotony of a runway show, or for an editorial shoot that is ostensibly about the clothes, but actually about something else entirely, the clothes are just the excuse. But for a static mannequin in an exhibition showing how gorgeous the ballgowns are; baffling! I felt like I was in some kind of parallel skinny-rich people dimension where the rules of physics and aesthetics behaved completely differently, a feeling I revisited several times throughout the day.

The difference between how I perceive beauty and how a designer does grew even more when I went upstairs to the contemporary (ie last 3 years) bit of the show. Apart from draped garments being really really not my thing, I failed to relate to most of the garments up there, I loved the concept of the fifties silhouette galaxy dress from last year (can’t remember who by) but on the model it looked sort of wrong.

Then my Mum and I saw a black full length sheath dress with intricate beading and simultaneously went ‘thats more like it!’ and of course it was about the only dress on that floor that wasn’t a sample and was actually worn by Beyonce, and the difference between that mannequins proportions and those of the dresses next to it was striking. Of course theres nothing wrong with size 0, and if someone is size 0 and has a dress made specially for them it can look spectacular, but a whole army of size 0 mannequins is a bit creepy, and actually in my mind didn’t do the dresses any favours. I mean I suspect Beyonce is tiny sized also, but omg the difference a bum and some tits made to the dress. Really don’t see how designers think what they do helps sell things.

After that went and had a salad for lunch in the cafe..it was a yummy salad, but most definitely a salad!

then we went and had a look for the ‘Kitty and the Bulldog’ exhibition, which I was really excited to see, cuz it was ostensibly an exhibition on how Gothic Lolita relates to Western Fashion. Except it wasn’t it was 8 or so dresses in the japan gallery, it started out ok with a ‘in the mid 90’s a load of Japanese designers and musician types saw Viviane Westwood stuff and  all the lovely gear you used to be able to buy down Camden market (sobs..may it rest in peace!) and thought “we’ll have a piece of that! ” ”

And that was about it for analysis, Malice Mizer and Kamikaze Girls were mentioned, but it went no further than that. I am glad in a way, cuz it explicitly counters one of the more irritating Lolita fallacies that ‘The Japanese designers invented lolita in a sort of vacuum between victorian times and 21st century japan and it has no overlap with or relevance to actual goth or any western alternative culture at all, and never has had – yes you might have been into it in 2001/2 and actually remember and I am 22 but I can afford brand and you can’t so I know more what I am talking about than you do!” not that I’m bitter or anything.

And it was good that it had putamayo and moi dix mois ega line stuff which actually do look like stuff you could/can buy down camden, but it would have been good to have some actual western stuff for comparison.And more analysis!!!Cuz after the first few dresses the analysis just went off on one and went into some bizarre theory about lolita being a western fashion and feeding back into japanese traditional culture..not as one would expect via wa-lolita but via a black and red samurai outfit with a fetish mask and a traditional kimono with a bit of  (rachelle) lace on it and a head dress. Apparently the head dress was a western style item! (nope, me neither!) . I mean it was japanese street fashion, but whether it had anything at all to do with lolita was highly debatable!

They also put two virtually identical blue BTSSB and AATP dresses next to each other as examples of different styles, which out of an exhibition of 8 or 10 or so was a bit lame really.

And then there were the mannequins. Japanese girls are really skinny, they are not usually 6 foot! Hence every single dress was a good 2 inches above the mannequins knees, and therefore it looked a bit odd, specially with the angelic pretty!

Anyway…I will cease moaning about it. Its worth a look if you are there anyway, but I wouldn’t go out your way to see it!

After that we went to Harvey Nicks to the roof garden for some refreshment , cuz it has been taken over by Penhaligon and they are doing a special floral inspired desert and cocktail menu. Unfortunately all the cocktails are alcoholic,which was no good cuz my mum is fatally allergic to the stuff and has a really bad attitude to anyone else drinking around her, so we had a non alcoholic one each off the main menu, which were refreshing, but not that great! (they promised me grenadine!) However if one is going to fall off the diet wagon, it is best to do it somewhere you can do it in style, so we ordered a peony flavoured white chocolate mousse each with berries. And it arrived and I remembered I was in skinny-rich parallel dimension and with that portion size I wasn’t really falling off the wagon at all. It was however totally gorgeous! The revelation of the meal was that as well as peony scent in the mousse, which tbh I didn’t massively notice, they had soaked the fruit in some kind of violet water, which was one of the nicest things I’ve ever tasted, specially in conjunction with the mousse. I am going to experiment at home and try to replicate something similar. i will not be able to get hold of water as I suspect , having had a quick look at the web, that that’s a do it yourself jobby and I don’t have a garden. I have however found these, which are from the most amazing website for cooking, and also gives me the excuse to buy this and these at the same time and have a go at a really poncey dinner party! 🙂

Rather than take the direct lift we took the escalators through rich-skinny land down the store. Its not actually so much the rich i mind, its the assumption that you can’t be rich/a valid consumer if you aren’t a size 10 or less all these stores and designers hold. 😦  Oh well, this is why I make my own stuff I suppose!…which I’d probably better get on with!

I may try and skulk back to Harvey Nichols at some point to try the actual cocktails, cuz they looked awesome, but with someone a bit more amenable to mid afternoon drinking….. looks around shiftily for volunteers! (it is ruinously expensive though!)