Hawthorne & Heaney at the V&A’s Undressed Exhibition

The Victoria and Albert Museum has such a great reputation for its fashion exhibitions and their new underwear epic ‘Undressed’ does not disappoint.  The exhibition is in the fashion section of the museum and is split between the historical pieces below and contemporary pieces on the first floor.

v and a underwear blue corset

For me the historical pieces are always the most intriguing as you start at the 18th Century corsets and work you way through. A great example of this is this baby blue corset made of cotton twill and silk lined. It is reinforced with whale bone and metal busk with machine lace and hand embroidery details. The embroidery on this piece is quite simple with the long fanned stitches around the hips and bust but it is very effective all the same. Most of the corsets are over 200 years old so it is amazing that they have survived to be displayed.

T.368-1976 Brassiere Brassiere, satin, ca. 1929, English England Ca. 1929 Satin and machine made ecru

Moving forward there are some lovely lace examples from the 20’s and 30’s such as the above brassiere and negligee below. They demonstrate the development of the technology in this area and to see the intricacy that they were able to achieve.

v and a underwear negligee

Along side the more prim and proper pieces are those which have a sense of humour such as the knickers pictured below. They belonged to a society Lady from the 1930’s who moved to the far east and commissioned these knickers as a fun item to have. They turned out to be to be quite useful, as the story goes, when she needed an ice breaker with other ladies she met, she would lift up her skirts and flash them a look at her hunting themed knickers to their great amusement. The hunting theme is achieved by lace applique of machine lace onto silk chiffon.

v and a underwear hunting knickers

v and a underwear gartersThe exhibition also offers a selection of garters, stocking and other underwear additions as well. There are some great examples of embroidery on these as there are greater opportunities to be create with them.



Moving upstairs, the focus is more on how underwear has progressed and its other interpreations such as into outwear.  The piece below is reminisant of 17th Century fashion but is a piece from the Galliano show for Givenchy haute couture 1996 where underwear becomes outerwear. The embroidery on this piece is quite stunning with the romantic colouring of the stitching onto sheer muslin.

v and a underwear galliano

v and a underwear elies saab

There is also a short video with interviews and insight into the design process with designers such as Fifi Chachnil and La Perla if you need a little sit down after all the lingerie.

Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear is at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London SW7, until 12 March 2017. vam.ac.uk. Click here for another review from respected Dress historian Lucy Worsley for the Guardian.

Hawthorne & Heaney at the Missoni Art Colour Exhibition

One of the most respected designer brands that has been in the creative industry for many years has ventured to London’s greatest Fashion and Textiles Museum to give you an insight into the creative processes of their italian fashion house. Ottavio and Rosita Missoni, the founders of Missoni, have developed their brand into various avenues across design world and we went to check out what Fashion, Interior and Art work the exhibition had to offer.


Missoni Art Colour

The exhibition begins with a traditional art gallery layout where you see many inspiration paintings from abstract artists like Sonia Delaunay and Bella and Gino Severini. It is clear to see the similarities in all the paintings displayed highlighting what elements the couple liked and wanted to develop into their own designs.


Ottavio Missoni chose to create many wall hangings made with knitted patchwork. Many of these are displayed around the exhibition so it is possible to see them both close up and from a distance. Although many colours are used throughout all of the wall hangings it is clear to see that all combinations have been carefully considered.


Wall hangings – Missoni Art Colour

By creating wall hangings with no real structure other than the original construction allowed Ottavio to have a unique way of merging his interest of art and fashion. These wall hangings were the basis and textile research for when he developed his work in a new form to produce fashion collections.


Garment collection – Missoni Art Colour

By creating wall hangings with no real structure other than the original construction allowed Ottavio to have a unique way of merging his interest of art and fashion. These wall hangings were the basis and textile research for when he developed his work in a new form to produce fashion collections.


Missoni knitted jumper, iconic ‘Made in Italy’ label – Missoni Art Colour

Missoni is well known for its fashion collections but also a lot of its woven materials have been used in the interior industry. A room is dedicated to many mirrors and carpets all using the Missoni patterns. An exclusive documentary is played in this room which gives you more of an insight to the makings of all avenues of the Missoni brand from the perspective of the Missoni family themselves.


Interior room – Missoni Art Colour


If you would like to visit this exhibition it is on from 6 May – 4 September 2016.

Open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 11am–6pm

Thursdays until 8pm

Sundays, 11am–5pm

Last admission 45 minutes before closing

Closed Mondays

£9.90 adults  / £7.70 concessions / £6 students

By Philippa Martin

Hawthorne & Heaney at the V&A’s Shoes: Pleasure & Pain Exhibition

World renowned for its calibre of art and design exhibitions, the V&A’s Shoes: Pleasure and Pain Exhibition was no exception to the museums prestigious reputation. As the title implies, the exhibition housed an amazing array of shoes for men and women from all over the world, ranging from Egyptian times to modern day.


For any embroiderer there is lots there to capture your interest and ogle though the glass at such as the silk work on these 19th Century Lotus shoes, to the classic beadwork on the 1958 Christian Dior pumps.

lotus 2 dior

There are also some great example of goldwork in the exhibition which demonstrates golwork’s uses aside from in military pieces. These examples are both from the shoes as a status section which is unsurprising given the skill and time necessary to create pieces of this quality. Below: Gold Mojari  covered in goldwork (1890) and Pale Blue Heels, with silver lace and braid (1750’s).



Along with the shoes themselves, the exhibition also covers other aspects relating to shoes as well such as the making and collection. Projected onto the dome of the building a video takes you through the making of a bespoke shoe , that gives you a behind the scenes view of one of our customers, Foster & Son. Watch the video below for a taster of the action.

Other videos throughout the exhibition brought the shoes to life, to show how the wearer would walk in them and the sounds they would make. This is most noted in the few pairs of Japanese ‘Geta’ (1880) shown where the wearer has to balance on one foot and swing the other foot across the floor in a half circle motion in order to take a step, more like a dance than a walk.



It shows the break down of what goes into making a shoe from designing the heel and arch shape which can be seen below to all the pieces that go into a shoe and how they come together as a functioning object. Above those pieces you can also see some embroidered uppers which helps to explain the shoe’s shape and the poitn at which is is possible to embroider them before they are put together.

heels minolos installationAll in all there is plenty to see and we would encourage anyone with an interest in embroidery or shoes to go and have a look while you can as you never know what might be the key to your next inspiration. The V&A’s Shoes: Pleasure and Pain exhibition is on now until 31st Jan 2016.