My role working on The Vulgar exhibition was to make arms and body parts for padding-out the body forms for historic dress.
Archived dress objects need careful handling for preservation, and modern mannequins are the wrong shape to achieve period silhouettes.
Garments need to be moulded and styled to the body form, using various types of padding.
Working with paper patterns, the arms were cut from one layer of Calico and one of Cotton Lawn, and then stuffed with wadding. Arms were sewn onto the body form, and styled to suit the narrative. Breast and tummy pads helped to bring the forms to life.
It was a valuable experience and got me in touch with my sewing skills.
The Vulgar exhibition, at The Barbican, showcases flamboyant dress and what has been thought of as distasteful.
People’s views about what is offensive change over time, so it’s interesting to reflect on the changing attitudes to fashionable dress.