Friday, 18 June 2010


Oh my word!!  I am just back from 3 days in Milan.  I went out to see an Exhibition of Napoleonic Costume that a friend has been working on for a very long time.  This was my first trip to Italy and I had got very excited at the thought.  It was everything and more than I expected.  The only negative thing was that I speak no Italian and I felt  very much at a disadvantage.  Fortunately the hotel I was staying in is also a big convention centre so the staff spoke good English.  It is situated in the City and that meant everything was within walking distance.  In fact the Basilica - Santa Maria delle Grazie - where Leonardo da Vinci's ' Last Supper' is housed was just opposite so that was my first port of call.  I spent a lot of time in here mesmerised by the Art and decoration.  I took lots of photographs which will give me an endless supply of ideas for my Textile work.  I wasn't able to see the Masterpiece as visits have to be booked in advance and although I had planned to go at some stage I was not sure when.  

The Exhibition I had gone to see is at La Triennale a large Exhibition complex in the heart of Milan.  It has been in the making for many months and my young friend Natalie has been commuting backwards and forwards to Milan helping with all the preparations of the clothes and making the correct underpinnings so that they all sit properly on the mannequins.  The photograph shows the earliest dress on display.  This one is mine and I have lent it to Martin and Christina for the duration of the Exhibition.  I have had this dress for a very long time.  I bought it at an Antique Fair I was working at in Plymouth in 1986.  It was on the stall adjacent to mine in amongst a lot of other old clothes,  Every time someone looked at the things on the rail and they were pushed backwards and forwards the sleeve would keep waving at me!!!  I eventually got up and went to have a look and couldn't believe what I was looking at.  It had been trimmed with the wrong lace, but I recognised the fabric as an early hand block print and bought it.  It was fairly grubby and had a couple of small tears but I was so happy to have it and even happier when  I discovered on the inside the stamp mark of the United East India Shipping Company which dated it to 1786.  It remained folded up and in a box for years as I never intended to sell it on.  Now it has been professionally cleaned and restored and is entering a new stage in its life. Natalie has made lovely undergarments and she has been christened 'Florine', and she stands proud and beautiful with all the other fabulous dresses that keep her company in the display case.

There is a fabulous book/catalogue printed both in English and Italian that Martin and Christina have produced to accompany the Exhibition .  I believe it is available to buy at the moment on Amazon.  I will post links to the official photograph album for anyone to look at.  I ha ve lots of  my own but the professional ones are so much better and it is the courteous thing to do.  A lot of time, money and very hard work has gone into making this Exhibition and credit is due where credit is due.   I met a lot of lovely people while I was in Milan and was thrilled to find that Natalie and some of the team were staying at my Hotel - sheer  coincidence - so we got to spend some time together at Breakfast and in the evenings.  Hilarious conversations in 'Eurobabble'!!!

Link for photographs.

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