Monday, 10 September 2012

Out and About... Fashion & Textiles Museum

This Summer...

Another exhibition that was happening at the Fashion & Textiles Museum was once based on Vintage Handkerchiefs. I had never really considered the meaning and function of a handkerchief before apart from wiping your nose or using one to wipe away tears, but its been a while since I've seen anyone use one since my grandad and that was years ago! I found it interesting to read how long the handkerchief has been around (since Egyptian times) and how a simple ordinary object we know today has many hidden meanings behind it. For instance, dropping a handkerchief and letting it drop to the floor was an invitation of friendship. Roman's used to drop a handkerchief known as a 'mappa' to signify the start of the Circensian games and knights from the Middle Ages pinned a handkerchief from a chosen lady to their sleeves before a jousting match to have 'a lady's favour' for luck. It was also considered that man in a suit is not completely dressed if they do not have a handkerchief or pocket square in their outside breast pocket.

There are also many other interesting facts about handkerchiefs that were used in connection with body language to signify certain meanings such as twirling a handkerchief in your hands indicated indifference, gentle mopping of your forehead meant you were being watched and lightly pulling a handkerchief over a cheek signified love.

The exhibition displayed handkerchiefs from around the 1920s to the 1950s although it is hard to state when the handkerchief was made and who by as many designers didn't put their labels in them till later on. The exhibition is based on the book The Printed Square by Nicky Albrechtsen.

These are only a few I have selected to show but you can see the amount of detail that has been printed on these handkerchiefs and how the colour is still bright and strong. I like on the last one how it has the negative of the leaves on the handkerchief instead of an actual leaves. I also like the one above in blue that looks kind of like peacock feathers, I like how it is starting in one corner and spreading across in a diagonal unlike most of the handkerchiefs patterns worked in a round circular pattern like the one with pink and black dots. Each time I look at these pictures I discover something new I hadn't seen before, like just now I noticed the scalloped edge on the pink and black dotted one. Just goes to show that there is so much detail in handkerchiefs and how the advancement in the printing industry had a great effect at the time which allowed for them to be detailed and amazing.

I am never going to look at another handkerchief in the same way again!

(photos are all my own from Fashion & Textiles museum)

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