The DeValera Library will hold a special fashion event next Tuesday when history and fashion come together to explore the changes from period costumes to post-World War I dress.
Noreen Ellerker of the Hunt Museum in Limerick will be giving a free workshop on period dress from the 12th century to the 20th century and will have some reproductions of the costumes on hand in the library at 8pm on October 20.
Speaking to The Clare Champion, Noreen outlineed what visitors to the library can expect.
“It’s a fashion workshop that we typically give in the Hunt Museum, where we discuss eight costumes that range from the 12th century to the 20th century. What we do is we describe each one and how it’s worn.
“Some of them, for instance, have hoops and as we go along we explain what would be going on at that particular period in time and in what context the garment would be worn.
“We try to put in a bit of history, such as who was the king or queen at the time. For instance, the Elizabethan costume would not have been worn while the lady was doing the wash-up, whereas the Crinolin costume we have would have been worn by all ladies from the washerwoman up,” she explained.
The workshop is designed so that it will give as much information about the outfit and the history of the time. For instance, up until the late 18th and early 19th centuries, there would have been no sewing machines and each of the costumes would have been hand stitched and dyed using plant extracts.
The reproduced outfits that will be presented are mainly recreated from documented original period dresses, as very few of the original garments would have survived.
“These would have been documented mainly through art. If an expensive outfit was bought for either a wife or daughter in those days it would be painted to show the garment off, so there would be that type of prestige attached,” Noreen added.
Another dress that Noreen will have on hand in the library dates to the style of 1921, post-World War I and she describes this as similar to those worn in the stage show and film Chicago.
“What we would say in the workshop is that the war was over and the women would have been working in the munitions and fields and wearing hoops and stiff outfits wouldn’t have been practical.
“They didn’t want that anymore and they wanted as much freedom as the chaps had. They cut their hair and bobbed it. Women’s hair up to then would have been kept long,” she explained.
Meanwhile, a feature of the dress sense at that time would have included the flattening of the front of the dresses, thereby elongating the body and they would have typically worn a corset that flattened them to the hips, giving the effect of a dropped waist.
While Noreen will not have examples of men’s costumes with her on Tuesday, she acknowledged that huge changes have taken place in men’s fashion since the 1200s, as is exemplified through the paintings of that era in particular.
Costumes of the earlier period would have been flamboyant and hand-stitched embroidery would have featured prominently.
This free Ennis Fashion Week event takes place at 8pm in the DeValera Library on October 20 and all are welcome.