Step back in time at Killerton
KILLERTON House, near Exeter, has been delving deep into the closet to host a series of Focus on Fashion events.
The themed drop-in sessions give visitors the chance to see a stunning array of costumes in detail – and there are still two left to enjoy.
They are run by Killerton's costume curator Shelley Tobin, who says the behind-the-scenes view gives the public a chance to see costumes which would not otherwise be on display.
"Our Focus on Fashion events are a wonderful opportunity for people to see many of the fascinating objects from our historical collection," she said.
"Visitors can take a closer look at items through magnifying glasses and see the intricate details not always visible in an exhibition, and discover intriguing facts about the objects."
Shelley said the sessions are very informal and people can drop in and out as they like.
"At Killerton we have a large dress collection of more than 10,000 pieces which were worn or used to accessorise outfits made for men, women and children between about 1690 and 1975," she said.
"The sessions usually take place in The Cutting Room in the fashion exhibition on the first floor of the house, on the second Monday of the month.
"I get out a selection of pieces to best reflect the changing shapes, construction and materials used in producing fashionable and functional pieces."
The next sessions to visit are:
Monday, August 12 – Shoes: Take a closer look at some examples of footwear for men, women and children dating from the 18th to the 20th century, with some 1920s shoes to handle and a pair of replica early 18th-century men's shoes to try on.
Monday, September 9 – Hats: Try on replica hats in the walk-in wardrobe, then take a closer look at some of the more ingenious and decorative historical pieces from the collection.
"We do not have a large area to display the shoes and hats so will have a select few out for visitors to see, and I will be on hand to talk about their fashion history," said Shelley.
"From an early 19th century Parisian beaver felt high crowned hat for a fashionable gentleman to Edwardian silk opera hats (hinged so they could be collapsed to make them more portable), to ladies' headgear from the 18th to 20th centuries – some fashionable and ornamented with feathers and artificial flowers, some purely functional such as the silk 'uglies' added to bonnets to shade the face.
"We also have innovative and one-off hats from the late 1970s by well known milliner David Shilling, whose mother Mrs Gertrude Shilling used to model one of David's creations at Ascot every year."
Each year, Killerton draws on its 10,000-item fashion collection to produce a new display.
And this time it has embarked on a new project with a renowned interior designer to showcase a collection of vintage fashion in the Objects of Desire exhibition.
The collection, brought to the Devon estate in the late 1970s, includes examples of ready-to-wear clothing, jewellery, hats and shoes. Other accessories range from the late 17th century through to the 20th-century fashion houses of Chanel, Hartnell and Molyneux.
Its wardrobe has grown over the past 35 years, from pieces acquired from private collector Paulise de Bush. The new exhibition at the 18th-century historic property explores the desirability of fashion, design and craftsmanship.
The house has been transformed by Russell Sage, who has collaborated with leading figures from the fashion and creative industries. His notable interiors include the Goring Hotel, London's Zetter Townhouse, the Savoy and Abbey Road Studios.
Mr Sage said: "I am delighted to be working with the National Trust. This project is incredibly exciting as it will breathe new life into the vintage fashion displays at Killerton."
Shelley Tobin, added: "We are thrilled that Russell Sage has agreed to work with us bringing his unique creative vision to the displays for what we hope will be our most exciting fashion exhibition yet."
The exhibition runs until the end of the year.
The Focus on Fashion events run from 11.30am to 1pm and again at 1.30pm to 2.30pm. Visitors can also access basic information about the objects with images at www.national trustcollections.org.uk/Killerton or via the link on the Killerton website.
Killerton House and exhibition are open from 11am to 5pm until November 4.
Details of the events are on www.nationaltrust.org.uk/killerton