Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Other ventures and plugs

Not content with being a full time Wardrobe Mistress, a good friend of mine managed to persuade me to costume his show. I urge you to go and see it. It has everything including the kitchen sink, cake baking and on stage bathing. Its at Dragon Hall on King Street, Norwich and runs until Saturday 3rd March.

Book tickets here:

Cast photos by the excellent Chris Hylton
Stan Mann
Mr Bryant Beattie Bryant
Jenny Beales Jimmy Beales

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

New Costume Talk - Fashion at War

I'm giving another one of my periodic costume talks at work this Thursday. Do come along. It will be spiffing. Lots of lovely frocks and accessories to pass around and examine.

I'll also be on Future Radio on Thursday morning around 11am

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

We Happy Few

The current in house show I'm working on is 'We Happy Few' by Imogen Stubbs. It's about a group of enterprising women that start a theatre troupe called The Artemis Players and tour around the country performing Shakespeare to the masses during World War 2. To say it has been a challenge from the start would be putting it mildly!

The play has a cast of 12. The 7 main female characters not only move through '39 to '45 changing costume accordingly but also have their theatrical costumes, dance costumes and some film costumes. Most of the girls in the cast have about 12 changes each and a majority of them super quick too. In addition to this we have a male and a female actor that take 12 bit parts each. Once again, quick changes so under dressing and over dressing required. The remaining 3 characters only have a paltry 3 or 4 changes so I make that a grand total of approximately 118 costumes! Phew!!

However, one of the great things about having the Maddermarket wardrobe at my disposal is that I don't have to start from scratch and pretty much all of the costumes are genuine 30s and 40s clothes. Some of them are even authentic CC41 government issue Utility designs.

Check out these gorgeous shoes. They are in fantastic condition and hardly look worn at all. Beautifully made and very comfortable. About a modern size 6 (39) and Dawnie gets to wear them as Hetty.
Suede with leather broguing

Check out the CC41 Utility stamp

Another exciting find was what at first seemed like a rather dull, nondescript blouse. But closer inspection revealed it to be unworn and in mint condition, complete with labels. Another utility garment. This one has a distinctive label so it must be fairly easy to date. 

The fabric is Moygashel and has a linen appearance

Never seen a colour woven CC41 label before

On the other side it has a 'Garlands of Norwich ' Label. Garlands was a department store on the site of the now  defunct Habitat

More war time fashion to come along with some glorious 1930s gowns

Friday, 10 February 2012

More treasures

Halfway up a very narrow staircase is a cupboard called 'The Betty Dutton Cupboard' (I think all cupboards should have names). It is named after a predecessor of mine who ran the wardrobe for a very long time between the 60s and 80s. Before the staircase existed, there was a step ladder through a hatch into this cupboard and you had to crawl about (it's only about 4 feet high) to find things hidden in trunks and wicker baskets. There was another level that you reached by squeezing through a small gap and hauling yourself up. As you can imagine, this didn't make it past health and safety so we now have the narrow staircase and easy access, smoke alarms and lights!
We still use this cupboard to store things that don't get used very often and Chrissie found some amazing things on her last sorting out session.
 This is a silk dress ensemble, very fragile now, dating from the 1890s. I wonder if it did belong to Queen Alexandra and how it came to be in our possession.  The work on it is incredibly fine and detailed.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Look what I found in a box on top of a dusty cupboard

I've no idea how long it had been up there. Lots of 1920s beaded pieces and some wonderful bits of Victorian and Edwardian trim