• Instagram - Black Circle
  • Twitter - Black Circle

PAST POSTS

Please reload

SEARCH BY TAGS: 

BIO

whatgrandmawore is a celebration of all-things fashion and its most iconic moments, written by Ruby-May Helms. She has a BA (Hons) in Fashion and Dress History, and an MA in the History of Design and Material Culture. She is currently in the process of applying for a PHD in design history, exploring the relationship between clothing and death. 

 

This blog explores fashion and dress history through the analysis of surviving garments and other material culture from museum collections. It discusses fashion theory, topical and current issues, and reviews the latest exhibitions. 

 

TO CONTACT: rubymayhelms@hotmail.com. 

 

You can follow us on our social media channels by searching for us on Instagram and Twitter.

  • Twitter
  • Instagram

June 4, 2019

In light of The Costume Society’s upcoming July conference, Pre-Raphaelites and the Arts and Crafts Movement, the terms (in this instance) of the month are Aesthetic/Artistic dress. 

E.582-1953. F. Champenois. Mucha, Alphonse. Colour lithograph. c1898. Victoria and Albert Museum, London. http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O590845/f-champenois-poster-mucha-alphonse/

These two words are used interchangeably, and can be applied, as stated by Aileen Ribeiro in her text Clothing Art: The Visual Culture of Fashion, 1600-1914 ‘to a shifting group of people,’ living in the 19th century, who shared ideas in regards to art and its relationship to dress and taste.[1] The terms are described by Valerie Cumming, C.W Cunnington and P.E Cunnington in The Dictionary of Fashion History as: 

Artistic Movement: 1848-1900 – the influence of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, a group of painters founded in 1948 by Holman Hunt, Milais and Dante Gabriel Rosetti […]. This alternative style, one of the firs...

April 24, 2018

Fashioned From Nature could not have come at a more critical time.

Increased environmental awareness has finally seemed to resonate with the population. Hopefully, and crucially, it will and has made people aware of their own behaviours; how they personally impact the planet on which we live, and share. Reactions to programmes such as BBC’s Blue Planet demonstrate the outrage which is now felt towards pollutant and waste materials such as plastic. Human disasters such as the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in 2013 prompted a widespread reassessment of the fashion industry and called for changes to the production of fast-fashion. I doubt that there could ever be a more poignant time to hold an exhibition detailing the fashion industry’s relationship with nature and the environment. It has become vital to address and discuss humanity’s past and present manufacturing and consumption behaviours - before it is too late to reverse the catastrophic effects that the demand of fashion has on...

December 23, 2016

‘Vulgarity exposes the scandal of good taste.' - Adam Phillips

Exhibition poster for The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined Exhibition. Image Credit: The Barbican. 

It's quite unusual to find the works of Madame Gres, Karl Lagerfeld, Alexander McQueen, and Christian Dior, amongst many other cherished designers in an exhibition titled The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined. The Barbican Art Gallery has installed a fashion exhibition deliberately designed to question our ideas of taste and vulgarity, depending on the various perspectives taken by the wearers, or viewers.

(Although the above and below dresses do not feature in the exhibition, the works of Alexander McQueen are perfect examples for discussions surrounding the concept of the vulgar, questioning ideas surrounding beauty and femininity.) Alexander McQueen Voss dress. c2001. Red and black ostrich feathers and glass medical slides painted red. Sølve Sundsbø / Art + Commerce. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New Yo...

November 11, 2016

Is fashion art? 

I have asked the question many times before, particularly in regards to the work of Japanese designers, such as Rei Kawakubo (whom The Met Museum will be focusing on as their key subject for next year's Gala), Issey Miyake, and  Yohji Yamamoto. 


I also think of designers that have placed the structure and composition of garments in the forefront of their design visions, Madeleine Vionnet, Madame Grès ect. 

But the one designer who stands out, a man who was experimental and innovative, determined to have every garment he produced be deemed as a piece of art, with an impeccably tailored silhouette fitting his couture clients perfectly. His name - was Charles James; a British couturier who worked in both America and Britain. 

Above image: C.I.53.73. 'Clover Leaf' Charles James dress. Silk and rayon. c1953. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 

Charles James was born in 1906, England, to an affluent family, and a father who was disapproving o...

August 19, 2016

Last week I took a trip over to Amsterdam. Having already visited before, I had gone to see the Van Gogh Museum, but this time, I wanted to see more.

There were five museums in total that I decided to travel to. For anyone else who wants to spend their holiday at some of Amsterdam’s most fascinating, famous, and at times freaky museums, I would advise for you to buy a Holland Pass. Using Gold tickets for the bigger museums (like the Rijksmuseum) and Silver tickets for smaller attractions (such as Red Light Secrets: Museum of Prostitution), this is the easiest and most convenient way to skip queues and save money. You can buy your passes depending on how many museums you wish to visit, and collect them at the airport (and other locations within Amsterdam).

Tassen Museum Hendrikje – Museum of Bags and Purses

By far one of my favourite museums (although biased because I am a fashion history student), the Museum of Bags and Purses consists of over 5000 objects, all thanks to the passion of co...

June 23, 2016

At times many have asked why fashion continues to be a respectable and relevant choice of career or study. Sceptics have complained that fashion has merely serves to decorate, creating a world of conspicuous consumption and image-orientated offspring. To give one reason of the hundreds that exist in order to destroy these beliefs, is that much of couture is meticulously created by hand. These are real works of art simply worn instead of being hung on the wall of a gallery or museum. However – when looking past the creativity, the skill, quality materials and status appeal of these luxurious garments, some designers have succeeded in pushing the boundaries to the point where the confines between fashion and art are blurred beyond all definition.

2010.396a, b. Yohji Yamamoto wooden dress. c1991-1992. Wood, cotton and metal materials. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Online Collection, New York.

Three designers: Japanese by their ethnicity, but undefinable by style, have transformed fash...

Please reload