Fancy Dress

1600-1625 (weaving), 1870-1890 (made)
Fancy Dress thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

These pieces probably came from a man's cloak or woman's petticoat. Like much surviving costume, they have been re-used in several incarnations over the past 400 years. During the late 19th century, authentic 17th century pieces of clothing were adapted and altered for wear as fancy dress. It was at this time that this fabric was cut up for sleeves, a process which unfortunately obliterated most of the evidence of their original 17th-century incarnation. Their unique textiure has been created by couching cords covered in green silk to the ribbed ground, and applying tufts of floss silk and green glass beads.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 13 parts.

  • Sleeve Part
  • Sleeve Part
  • Sleeve Part
  • Sleeve Part
  • Bodice
  • Sleeve Part
  • Sleeve Part
  • Sleeve Part
  • Sleeve Part
  • Sleeve Part
  • Sleeve Part
  • Sleeve Part
  • Sleeve Part
Materials and Techniques
Embroidered and appliquéd silk, with cording and glass beads
Brief Description
Fancy dress sleeves, 1870-1890, British, made of early 17th-century green silk taffeta, couched, beaded
Physical Description
Pieces of dress fabric, green silk embroidered and appliqued with cording and glass beads. The unique texture of these sleeves has been created by couching cords covered in green silk to the ribbed ground and applying tufts of floss silk and green glass beads. The sinuous pattern relates to strapwork, a popular design found on a variety of media during this period. It can also be compared to the curvilinear patterns of stems in contemporary embroidery, with the bugles and floss silk creating an abstract rendition of a flower.



The fabric was probably originally a gown or petticoat that were cut into sleeves, lined and sewn to a bodice for fancy dress in the late 19th century, now unpicked.
Dimensions
  • 225 1 1893 length: 60.5cm (approx)
  • At sleeve head width: 20cm
  • At cuff width: 9cm
  • 225 2 1893 length: 54.0cm (approx)
  • 225 3 1893 length: 61.0cm (approx)
  • 225 4 1893 length: 53.0cm (approx)
Production typeUnique
Object history
These pieces probably came from a man's cloak or woman's petticoat. Like much surviving costume, they have been re-used in several incarnations over the past 400 years. During the late nineteenth century, real seventeenth century clothing was adapted and altered for wear as fancy dress. It was at this time that the fabric was cut up for sleeves, a process which unfortunately obliterated most of the evidence of their original seventeenth-century incarnation.
Historical context
Glass beads or bugles, as they were known, were one of the more unusual materials used to decorate clothing in the sixteenth century; there are only three references to bugles in the inventories of Elizabeth I's wardrobe. The Murano glassworks outside Venice, the centre of glass manufacture during the Renaissance, had developed by the sixteenth century the 'drawn'glass' technique which allowed the production of large quantities of glass beads with a central hole. These 'bugles' were made primarily for trade with North America and Africa, but were also sold in Europe for use in embroidery.
Production
During the late 19th century, real 17th-century clothing was adapted and altered for wear as fancy dress. It was at this time that the fabric was cut up for sleeves, a process which unfortunately obliterated most of the evidence of their original 17th-century incarnation.



Reason For Production: Private
Association
Summary
These pieces probably came from a man's cloak or woman's petticoat. Like much surviving costume, they have been re-used in several incarnations over the past 400 years. During the late 19th century, authentic 17th century pieces of clothing were adapted and altered for wear as fancy dress. It was at this time that this fabric was cut up for sleeves, a process which unfortunately obliterated most of the evidence of their original 17th-century incarnation. Their unique textiure has been created by couching cords covered in green silk to the ribbed ground, and applying tufts of floss silk and green glass beads.
Bibliographic References
  • Arnold, Wardrobe Unlock'd, pp. 290 and 263; Hart and North, Historical Fashion, p. 28
  • Doran, Susan (ed.), Elizabeth: The Exhibition at the National Maritime Museum, London: Chatto & Windus, 2003
Collection
Accession Number
225-1893

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record createdNovember 7, 2003
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