YSL AT THE BOWES MUSEUM
Back to County Durham and the wonderful Bowes Museum with a group of friends, for a final look at the YSL exhibition now in its last two weeks. It’s achieved the highest attendance of any exhibition at the museum. Our departure was fraught to say the least. A car taking us to King’s Cross didn’t show up to catch the horribly early 7.30 a.m. train and a frantic call to Hailo saved the day. We arrived at the station with an (un) comfortable two minutes to spare. Red faced, sweaty and out of breath wasn’t the most relaxing way to start our day.
Although we could have done without the stress and anxiety of nearly missing our train, it was definitely worth it.
The boy genius
One of the joys of this wonderful retrospective exhibition was the thoughtful, intelligent style of presentation in showcases with pieces from the Bowes costume collection – one of the finest in the country. The museum was packed. Considering the location is not exactly accessible – in the middle of the countryside – makes this even more remarkable. Visitors often have to travel long distances to get there. Many had never visited the Bowes before.
THE BOWES MUSEUM COSTUME DEPARTMENT IS ONE OF THE MOST INTERESTING IN THE COUNTRY. THE LACE COLLECTION IS INCREDIBLE AND THE EMBROIDERED VESTMENTS FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE POOR CLARES ARE OUTSTANDING.
John and Josephine Bowes were pioneers in the field of textile collecting. Their collection houses the Blackborne Lace Collection, containing the remaining stock of nineteenth century lace dealers, Anthony and Arthur Blackborne, given to the museum by their descendants in 2006. It includes many rare pieces including a cavalier’s collar of English needle lace from around 1635, making this one of the largest and most important collections of lace in the world.
The Poor Clares
In 2007, a collection of vestments and textiles came from St Clares Abbey in Darlington. They were donated by the Order of the Poor Clare who brought them from Rouen, France, where the community ran a school for English Catholic girls from 1644 to 1793. After the French Revolution the sisters were evicted from their monastery and returned to England. So famous was their reputation that aristocrats and noble women came from far and near to have them embroider pieces for ball gowns and wedding dresses.
The story goes that when they were forced to leave their monastery leaving behind all possessions, they buried their fine work in a vegetable patch underneath the soil. They were given permission to return to pick vegetables and managed to also bring their precious work hidden under potatoes and onions.
What a contrast? What a change of landscape too.
The Bowes Museum looms loftily above the market town of Barnard Castle in the middle of rural, unspoilt County Durham. The Saatchi Gallery is off the buzzy King’s Road, both have serious, major exhibitions which are sadly about to end – YVES SAINT LAURENT and GABRIELLE ‘COCO’ CHANEL.
Two fashion exhibitions. Very different styles of presentation but both brilliant captivating interest, with the personalities of both designers coming through strongly.
An absorbing look ‘behind the scenes’ at Chanel and some of the unique techniques that so identify the House.Lesage are the masters of the highly skilled technique of fine, opulent embroidery.
Free workshops were held to give interested members of the public an opportunity to try their hands at skills such as embroidery and making of adornments, the speciality of Chanel. To secure a place on one of the workshops held throughout the day, you needed to go online and check availability.
And last but certainly not least, there is CHANEL NO 5, the perfume most women have worn at some point in their life and the fragrance that is symbolic of an important moment in their lives.
Two wonderful, imaginative exhibitions.
Yves Saint Laurent and Coco Chanel both had a profound influence on the way women dress and continue to inspire them.