Re-Dress: Exquisite 18th Century menswear and stunning contemporary fashion from students of the School of Textiles & Design at Heriot-Watt University.
A season of exhibitions of 18th Century costume & Contemporary Fashion
1st Show: 5th - 31st May
2nd Show: 6th - 31st August
With selected pieces on display all season throughout the House
On 5th May Paxton House, in the Scottish Borders, launches Re-Dress, an exciting new exhibition of fabulous recently conserved 18th century costume, coupled with stunning contemporary fashion, inspired by the collection, from students of the School of Textiles & Design at Heriot-Watt University.
The exhibition will run all season with a change of exhibits from 6th August & the return of Paxton’s unique Carousel Costume of 1750.
This project to conserve our historic collection and to create new fashion inspired by it commenced in 2011 and was funded by a grant of £57,600 from the Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund which is run by the Museums Association.
Paxton’s Costume Collection
The collection comprises 21 pieces of male clothing ranging in date from the 1740s to 1760s, including coats and waistcoats in sumptuous velvets, luxurious brocade, intricately embroidered silk, woollen broadcloth sewn with silver 'lacing', a banyan with matching waistcoat and an elaborately decorated saddle cloth & pair of pistol-holders.
There is also a single item of women's wear - a much-altered sack-back gown, the original fabric & decoration believed to date from the 1750s & two late C18th sets of Dragoon's uniform, from approx 1790, & documented as belonging to Lt. Col. David Home, important for their excellent condition, history & provenance.
Conservation of the Collection
Until last year most of the collection had been squeezed into small conservation boxes lying in the upper floors of Paxton House, hardly ever seeing the light of day and being treated very much as the poor relation to our world class Chippendale and Trotter furniture collection. The garments had been in the house for many years and are believed to have belonged mainly to Patrick Home, Paxton’s first owner. They had occasionally been used for dressing up by the family who owned the house until 1988 when it was given to the nation in the care of an independent charitable trust, The Paxton Trust. The fact that the clothes had barely been handled in all that time is of course what has preserved this unparalleled array of menswear from this period, women's wear is much more common. Expert textile conservators tell us that it is in excellent condition. The quality of the tailoring is exquisite and indicates that it was worn in the highest society at Court. The standard of craftsmanship and embellishment is very high. The general public as well as academics will benefit from having this unique collection brought back to life.
We have worked with Maggie Dobbie, from The Glasgow University Textile Conservation Centre, who has cleaned and conserved each of the items of historic costume, prior to mounting them on new mannequins and recording the process in high resolution photographs.
Collaboration with Heriot-Watt University
As part of this project, we invited 3rd year Textiles & Design students from Scottish Borders based Heriot-Watt University to create works inspired by Paxton’s historic interiors, architecture & fashions. In response they have created twenty-four individual outfits of contemporary fashion which will be displayed at Paxton this season. This new work will be shown alongside the historic garments and will be accompanied by a specially commissioned film and book of the project.
The Carousel Costume of 1750
Patrick Home, who commissioned the construction of Paxton House, was a wealthy young Scot who had been sent to Leipzig University to read law and subsequently had letters of introduction to the Court of Frederick the Great at Potsdam, near Berlin. He was a social success and was honoured by being invited to take part in Frederick’s grand Berlin Carousel of 1750, dressed as a Carthaginian knight. The Carousel was a combination of medieval tournament and exotic carnival where the nobility dressed in elaborate costumes and formed a torch lit process through the streets of the city to an arena. Today Patrick’s ornate costume is the only known garment to still exist from this spectacular event. It is a fragile survivor and is rarely on display but it will be specially exhibited at Paxton for the whole of August this year.
A Georgian Year
To mark its 20th year since opening to the public in 1992, this season Paxton House is going back to its roots with all things Georgian, featuring the clothes, manners & pursuits of those times with light-hearted etiquette classes, a glimpse into the little-seen world of Georgian undergarments! The season ends with a sumptuous Regency Ball on Saturday 27th October.
We have also developed new C18th replica pieces to shed light on the female costume of the day & to enable visitors & school groups to understand some of the restrictions of these extraordinary fashions.
Paxton House, near Berwick-Upon-Tweed, is an 18th century neo-Palladian mansion situated in 80 acres of grounds with riverside walks, an adventure playground, the Stables Restaurant with irresistible home-baked scones and cakes and the Regency Gift Shop. The 18th century Adam designed country mansion has a superb collection of Chippendale and Trotter furniture and the largest Picture Gallery in a private house in Scotland where paintings from our partner, The National Galleries of Scotland, are on display. Open 11.00am until 5.00pm every day until the end of October.