costumes and textiles


More Art Monday: Bastille Day

Happy July 14 to our French friends! As every French town is organizing its own ball to celebrate it and every woman is getting ready to be the most beautiful, discover the Museum’s collection of ball gowns and accessories. Which one would you chose to go dancing in on Bastille Day?

Ball of the Bastille,” 1790, Louis Le Coeur

Woman’s Evening Dress: Bodice and Skirt,” 1850-55, Artist/maker unknown, French

Fan,” 1905-10, Alexandre

Bag,” 1920, Artist/maker unknown, Austrian

Woman’s Shoes,” 1895, Label Alexander, New York

Bouquet Holder,” 1850, Artist/maker unknown, French

Bracelet,” 1849,  Artist/maker unknown, French


(via Secret History –

Where beauty transcends time: the archaeology of a dress

A Victorian dress decorated with 1,000 beetle wings is back on display following 1,300 hours of conservation work carried out by a team led by Zenzie Tinker. 

[Oooh …. green iridescent beetle wings, naturally shed. These beetle wings are probably also the original embroidered shisha mirror. The painting is of the actress Ellen Terry wearing the dress in the late 1800s. Another Tumblrite says the dress was the inspiration for Elinor’s dress in the movie Brave.”]

Some quotes:

A stage costume worn by Ellen Terry, one of the most celebrated and glamorous actresses of the Victorian age, has now returned  home to Smallhythe Place in Kent. The emerald and sea green gown, covered with the iridescent wings of the jewel beetle (which they shed naturally), was worn by Ellen for her portrayal of Lady Macbeth at London’s Lyceum Theatre in 1888.

At over 120 years old, the dress had seen many years of wear and tear and was subject to much alteration. Two years ago the intricate process of conserving it began. For Zenzie and her team, the challenges of repairing and conserving the dress were considerable. 

Conservation was complicated by the unusual construction of the dress which is hand crocheted and knitted from Bohemian yarn, described by the designer Alice Comyns-Carr as being, “a twist of soft green silk and blue tinsel”. Conservators supported the dress on a custom dyed nylon net after painstakingly repairing the holes in the crochet.

Paul Meredith added: “We had collected beetle wings that had fallen off over the years. The conservator was able to re-attach many of the originals, plus others that had been donated to us  -  1,000 in total. The one hundred or so wings that were broken were each carefully repaired by supporting them on small pieces of Japanese tissue adhered with a mixture of wheat starch paste.”


More Art Monday: Here Come the Brides

“Marry when the June roses grow,” or so the saying goes. In honor of June brides, we’re sharing a selection of wedding ensembles from the Museum’s collection. Which would you wear to say “I do”? Explore more objects here.

Wedding Dress: Two Bodices and Skirt, c. 1888, made by Corbay-Wenzel, Paris

Wedding Ensemble: Dress, Slip and Headpiece, 1925, designed by Jeanne Lanvin

Grace Kelly’s Wedding Dress and Accessories, 1956, designed by Helen Rose

Woman’s “Always a Bride II” Wedding Dress, Slip, and Cap, 1982, made by Leilani Claire

Woman’s Wedding Ensemble: “Button and Bows” Dress and Slip, 1986, designed by Zandra Rhodes

Woman’s Bodysuit and Veil, Fall/Winter 1988, designed by Patrick Kelly

Woman’s Wedding Dress, Spring 2012, designed by Carolina Herrera

First moth of many.

I was feeling really terrible a few weeks ago. I’d just gotten back from my trip to Everfree Northwest and had been fighting a migraine without much luck; I was hesitant to take my new emergency meds because I’m trying not to build my tolerance to them. You can get used to living with a significant amount of pain if it’s always there. So instead of hiding in the dark, I dug through my scrap fabric stashes looking for inspiration.

I knew I wanted to embroider. It’s perfect for me when things are getting severe. I can sit and barely move while still slowly accomplishing something beautiful. I settled on a surcoat the same shape as those I’ve made for William in the past; however, I kept straying from the usual motifs.

So now I find myself collecting images of different moths and translating them into line and thread. My intention is to cover the garment in them, then dot the trails of their fluttering flight-paths for greater moment and vertical energy.

This is the first of them and so far it’s still my favourite.

Today is Ask A Curator day. We have contemporary art curators, and the foremost scholar of Grace Kelly’s fashion on deck to answer your questions. Tweet your questions using #AskACurator. More about the event here.

Grace Kelly’s Wedding Dress and Accessories, 1956, Designed by Helen Rose

To celebrate yesterday’s landmark victory in #marriageequality, here is a selection of close ups of some of the garments from #chinalookingglass at the @metmuseum. I will post full shots later with their descriptions. For now, enjoy the colorful combination of the textiles and have a happy #Pride weekend!! #textilehistory #textiles #costumehistory #costumestudies #costume #fashion #fashionhistory #fashionstudies #museumnerd #museumlover #museumfridays #museums #rainbow #internationalfashion #fashionthroughtheages #1700sFashion #20thCenturyFashion #ContemporaryFashion


Fashion Friday: A Tribute to Tassell

In the 1960s, Philadelphia-born designer Gustave Tassell achieved international acclaim for his refined women’s clothes and accessories. A favorite of Jacqueline Kennedy and Princess Grace of Monaco, the drama of Tassell’s designs was in their simplicity, according to Dilys E. Blum, The Jack M. and Annette Y. Friedland Senior Curator of Costumes and Textiles. In tribute to Tassell, who passed away last month, we’re sharing five favorites from our Tassell collection. Explore more here.

Woman’s Late Afternoon Dress, Fall 1957, by Gustave Tassell

Woman’s Dress and Cape, Spring 1960, by Gustave Tassell

Woman’s Ensemble: Dress, Cape, and Capelet, Spring 1965, by Gustave Tassell

Woman’s Hat, Spring 1965, by Gustave Tassell

Woman’s Evening Dress, Spring/Summer 1969, by Gustave Tassell