As we mellow into the autumn twilight in the southern hemisphere, in the northern hemisphere the cherry blossoms are in bloom and everyone is seeking to emerge from winter hibernation, especially the humans. It has certainly been a long cold winter in the north, and a hot wet summer in the south, as climate change continues on its evolutionary path. As we progress ever forward, reflecting on the past helps us to imagine and create new foundations for the future.
Fashionable concerns in both exhibitions and television shows, are busy highlighting that period in history when costume fulfilled a function far beyond just utility. During the 15th and 16thcentury in Europe and England a great outpouring of art and economic growth was reflected in the textiles that were worn. There were rich tapestries, brocades with gold thread, and the legendary cloth of gold.
A patron who was at once conspicuous, wealthy and passionate about the antique fostered the fashion for valuable ornaments. Such attitudes were embodied by those surrounding all the royal courts, when monarchs and nobles provided a vision of sartorial splendour.
The expansion of trade and industry led to a period where costume was influenced more by currents in art and intellectual thought than by any other factors.
Artist Sir Peter Lely recorded the very beautiful Frances Teresa Stuart (1647-1702), Duchess of Richmond, c.1662. She became prominent at the court of Charles II because she refused to become the King’s mistress. A distant relative of the royal family, Samuel Pepys of diary fame recorded her as ‘the greatest beauty he ever saw’.
Hers is only one of the fabulous portraits from the Royal Collection on show in the exhibition In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor & Stuart Fashion at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace. It is sure to be a sell out event in London this summer.
At the V & A Museum in London, Treasures of the Royal Courts – an exhibition at the V & A Museum at London chronicles the close relationship between the English monarchy and the Russian Tsars.
In Melbourne 24 – 28 April antique dealers from around Australia will be gathering for the annual Australian Antiques and Art Dealers Association Fair, where a 15th century merchant’s ring from the Tudor period will be on show from Anne Schofield Antiques in Sydney.
Coming back to the present an entirely different perspective is offered by ACMI at Federation Square in Melbourne, which is hosting Hollywood Costume as their Winter Masterpiece. This is the show everyone will be talking about, as it arrives in town direct from the V & A at London where it was a huge hit all over the Christmas season.
It’s also about glamour too, but of a make believe kind, a fantasy world we can all get lost in.
Download the Muse~News 3rd Anniversary Special – April 2013 here
Download Muse~News April Special – Art Fashion & Style here
Download Muse~News Anzac Day Week Special here
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Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle 2013
Image: Sir Peter Lely, Frances Teresa Stuart, Duchess of Richmond, c.1662 courtesy Royal Collection Trust / (C) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2013.