Thursday, November 13, 2014

London Highlights! Part II

I've been so excited to share with you all of the highlights of my visit to London.  Now it's time to go through my favorite part of the trip: the museums!  I visited 10 museums in 8 days, and my only regret is not spending more time at each.  My absolute favorite was, of course, the Victoria and Albert Museum, but more on that later...

The Fan Museum

On a bit of a whim and a recommendation from Caro over at The Lingerie Lesbian, I stopped into The Fan Museum while visiting Greenwich.  It's a very small independent museum with an extraordinary collection of antique fans, including an exhibit on how fans are made, the various materials employed, and a history of the fan.  It was a really lovely experience and I was so inspired by the beautiful pieces that I've since been looking into including a lace fan in a new upcoming collection!

The Wallace Collection

I knew that The Wallace Collection was not to be missed, but I was wholly unprepared for what was in store for me!  From the collection of Marie Antoinette's furniture (above) to the glistening chandeliers in each room (below), this mansion-turned-museum is truly peerless.  (Except maybe for the New York's Frick Collection, which remains my favorite museum in the world.)

It was impossible to be uninspired by the carefully curated portraits, wallpaper, furnishings... even candlesticks!  I probably could have spent an entire day reading placards and daydreaming.  Highlights also included (of course) paintings, and the collection houses two of my alltime favorites: The Swing by Fragonard and Madame de Pompadour by Boucher.  I was particularly struck by the scale of the paintings - some of them are enormous!  You simply can't grasp this level of detailing without seeing them in person, so I highly recommend a visit!

The Victoria and Albert Museum

Of course no trip to London would be complete without a visit to the famed V&A Museum.  As if we didn't have Victoria and Albert to thank for enough things, they also gave us this incredible (though eclectic) museum of textiles, paintings, jewelry, decorative arts, sculpture, and more.  I could write pages and pages on the stunning (albeit difficult to navigate) collections, and I'm sure that another 10 visits would still leave me wanting more!

Their costume collections are the most incredible I've ever seen.  From antique corsets and slips to modern ball gowns and a special exhibit on Wedding Dresses, they truly house some of the world's best specimens of costume and fashion.  Many of the pieces are displayed open to expose the interiors, and overall it's pretty easy to see the sides and backs of many garments as well.

The highlight of my V&A visit was a special appointment at the Clothworkers' Centre, where I was fortunate enough to visit the archives and study several lingerie pieces in greater detail.  I was amazed at the relative ease of coordinating my visit, the genuine kindness and helpfulness of the curatorial staff, and the quality and quantity of garments available for study.  I'll go into greater detail in my following post on the Clothworkers' Centre, but really.... prepare to be amazed!

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