Yesterday we went to a steampunk meet-up at Chatsworth House. The intention was to have a lovely picnic in the grounds, and also to see the current exhibition of costume that’s on, called ‘House Style’.
From the site information:
House Style demonstrates the power of fashion and brings to life the captivating individuals from the Cavendish family, including:
- Bess of Hardwick, one of the most powerful women of the 16th century
- The 18th century “Empress of Fashion” Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire
- Adele Astaire, the sister and dance partner of Fred Astaire
Deborah Devonshire and Nancy Mitford, two of the Mitford sisters, model Stella Tennant and John F Kennedy’s sister ‘Kick’ Kennedy will also be central to the show.
There are three little appetiser videos on this page too.
I hadn’t actually seen these before we went, and we didn’t buy an audio guide either, so we didn’t ‘get’ all the connections. It was still pretty damn amazing though. For me, seeing the very modern garments alongside the mid 20th century ones, AND all the court robes from much earlier, was really striking and unusual. Each room [we discovered eventually] had a laminated sheet or two, giving some information about the displayed, numbered items. [I thought I might buy the book of the show as it were, but at £35, it actually didn’t seem to include all the garments on display, so I passed on that.]
Most of the clothes are displayed amazingly well, the exception was in one of the first major display areas, where a small group of stunning white bridal gowns focusses your attention, while a larger selection of completely black couture garments fades totally into the surrounding gloom. Everyone there was squinting and peering, and muttering about the lack of lighting. Apparently flash photography is not allowed, but in the dark, any signs saying so were invisible to me, and we did get one. The result is completely greyed out, but at least I now know what we were looking at in the shadows!
One whole section of the show is based on the outrageous costumes worn to a ball in the 1890s, where guests were instructed to wear outfits inspired by myth and legend, or from at least 80 years earlier. I was amused to see how the ladies interpreted that in order to keep their fashionable silhouettes.
Of course, there’s also a helluva lot of amazing art and architecture to ogle.
When we were done, we sauntered off outside to meet up with the rest of our sizeable group of steampunk nutters, for a rather well-attended photo opportunity. Quite a few photographers were in attendance. For the record, trying to herd steampunks is very much like herding opinionated [if amiable] cats…
And then back to the car for a hasty popping of corsetry prior to the drive home. Corsets are very comfy, honest, but not for sitting in modern car seats for very long!
I recommend a visit if you’re withing reach, but take night vision goggles for the black clothes! Many thanks to the lovely Katie Middleton-West, who organised the day out. Too cold for a punk-nic this year, but we’ll be back for more next year!