Thursday, 14 March 2013
Gallery of Costume at Platt Hall
This morning I had the opportunity to visit The Gallery of Costume at Platt Hall, Manchester. I arranged to look at their collection of shirts dating from 1800 to 1850. It was interesting to make comparison with the Prince's Shirt in terms of garment cut, style and weight of the cloth.
The box that was brought out to me was crammed with 13 linen shirts, folded between layers of tissue paper. Each was different. None of them quite matching the style of the Prince's Shirt, but finding familiar features amongst them.
Most of the shirts were quite yellow and stained. Marks from water, wear, staining, fold marks, etc. Some also showed signs of mending; darns, patches alterations and replacement sections. It made me aware what a wonderful condition the Prince's Shirt is in and how white it is. Has it been washed with modern detergents or just very well cared for?
The main thing I was able to observe was the difference in quality and weight of the fabric. From the collection at Platt Hall I found nothing even close in quality to the Prince's Shirt. The Prince's Shirt is a floating, transparent lawn, by comparison the other shirts seemed heavy. Dr Miles Lambert confirmed my thoughts about this and agreed that the shirt was of extremely high quality and something of very high status.
It made such a difference to see 'the real' thing rather than looking at images online. Handling the shirts and looking at their construction allowed me to see the similarities and understand how styles gradually evolved. I also found it fascinating to see the mended shirts, to realise how clothing and textile was valued and preserved.