Friday, 30 April 2010

Fashionably Curious- Central Saint Martins resides at 18 Stafford Terrance

I was lucky enough to be asked, as a Fashion History and Theory 1st year, to help the 3rd years launch their final project exhibition. They have taken over Punch cartoonist Edward Linley Sambourne's House near High Street Kensington and their exhibition fuses the curiosities of the Victorian era and the idiosyncrasies of the Sambourne family with contemporary dress using the work of Saint Martin’s alumni. Another more subtle theme was Alice in Wonderland. The launches happened on Thursday (April 22nd) for press and Friday for friends and family. The 3rd years had been lucky enough to secure food and drinks form Whole food stores so the 1st year jobs included pouring drinks/serving platters, standing at the tube to direct people to the house and standing on each floor of the house to invigilate. The house itself was very steep- 3 floors and a basement and had been preserved in the Victorian style except the master bedroom. It was very creaky and scary when the light began to go as there was so much stuff packed in. It was amazing how the old house and contemporary dress meshed so well together and every time you went around it you noticed about 5 other things you hadn't seen before.
Ground floor- The dining room, the morning room and the hall.

The Dining room was the place where Sambourne entertained male guests and contemporaries. The two suits reflect the attire these men would have worn. The suit on the left, from Angles the Costumiers, from the 1880s consists of a black tail coat, white shirt and black bow tie. The jacket next to it is by Dunhill, 2010. The difference between the cut of the jackets shows the effect time has had on the fossilized black suit.


The Morning Room is where Marion, Sambourne’s wife carried out her domestic duties. One of them was letter writing, emphasised by the letters spread out next to her. The mannequin wears a Vivienne Westwood dress over the Hussein Chalayan Airmail Dress (1991) with a feathered head wrap. There is a 2010 MoutonCollet pure white riding hat made with real feathers and deer antlers on the mantle piece. This particular piece was worn by Lady Gaga.

The hall. On Friday I discovered these gross dead birds pressed between frames near the front door. Apparently this was commonly done in this era alongside hunting. My friend Jacqualine loved them. From the 2nd picture you can see the densely decorated wall and the real antlers over the mirror. The stairwell is also important as it showcases some of Sambourne's illustrations and Sambourne's great grandson's photographs for Acne paper which featured CSM staff and alumni.

The First Floor- The Drawing Room

The Drawing room takes up the whole floor and is the social centre of the house. This room is linked to Alice in Wonderland as it was the place where calling females would be entertained and that happened to Alice at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party. The white rabbit is represented by the Peter Jensen dress with his signature rabbit on it from his Resort 2010 collection. The Mad Hatter is implied by the array of fantastic millinery provided by Stephen Jones (the union jack and flower alice band headpiece), MontonCollet (The fabulous studded helmet) and Fred Butler (the kaleidoscopic rainbow hat)

2nd Floor- Roy's bedroom and the Master Bedroom.

On Thursday night I started off invigilating on this floor. The room, Roy's, is very interesting. The theme was 'the theatre, bright lights and big city'. Roy was obsessed with actresses and their pictures adorn his walls. He went to many shows as the programmes on the bed proved and was the eternal bachelor. The pieces in this room were chosen to reflect the theme. There is a Marios Schwab 3D dress which links the fantasy of fashion with the fantasy of the theatre and Alice in Wonderland. A Jonathan Saunders zigzag print dress with the print recycled from his first collection. A digital print Alexander McQueen dress now very collectable; and a comparison between an 'It' bag of today- The Mulberry Alexa in Pink Leopard and a 1920s evening bag. The stained glass, one of many around the house, was designed by Sambourne and shows the symbol of the Aesthetic movement which he was a part of.

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