Events Update

We have been busy this summer, with talks and handling workshops – and there is still more to come, so if you haven’t caught us yet, make a note of upcoming dates and check back for further details:

Future events

● Wednesday 13 September – Public workshop:

Intergenerational workshop, part of the Social Connections Project at York Cares (funded by the York Community Grant).

● Thursday 19 October – Public Talk at Wentworth Woodhouse:

Professor Cordula van Wyhe: ‘Accessorizing the Flapper Girl: Fashion between the Old, the New and the Global in Interwar Europe’.

Past 2023 events

● 11 January: York Talks – ‘Modernity and Make-Up: Big Stories in Small Powder Compacts’ – at the Ron Cooke Hub, University of York.

● 27 June: ‘One Object Many Voices: Fashion History Up Close: Encounters with the Materiality of Victorian Parasols and Walking Canes’, Public Event. Dr Cordula van Wyhe (Department of History of Art) with Guest Speakers, Gil Dye (independent researcher and lace maker); Dr Chris Holland (Senior Lecturer in Natural Materials, the University of Sheffield; and Rick Sutton (bone carver) – at King’s Manor, University of York.

● 12 July: ‘One Object Many Voices: Fashion History Up Close: Looking at Georgian Fashion from the Inside Out‘, Public Event. Dr Cordula van Wyhe; Vanessa Jones (Assistant Curator, Leeds Museum and Galleries); and Dr Sarah Burnage (Curator, Fairfax House) – at Fairfax House, York.

● 2023: ‘Fashion History in Your Hands’, Handling Workshop for All Ages, led by Dr Cordula van Wyhe – in the Spencer Wing, Cannon Hall Museum, 12 August.

Top: Parasols event at Kings Manor; bottom: Georgian fashion event at Fairfax House

York Festival of Ideas Workshop – 18 June 2022

We had a wonderful ‘York Festival of Ideas’ workshop on Saturday 18 June, thanks to our audience of enthusiastic and engaged people. Together we had fun doing some practical experiments of how to wear a skirt lifter, how to use a Victorian button hook, how to brandish a 1920s silver minaudière in style, and much more.

Some members of the audience voiced their surprise at how much can be learned of the past through the study of dress accessories. Others were taken back to memories of their great-grand-mother’s dressing tables and the fragrance of her powder compacts. And some wished to engage with the DMDA in a more pro-active way. The questions continued long after our session had finished. We have also taken important food for thought away from our audience’s questions, comments, and memories.

Special thanks are due to little Alexander, who manned ‘the cockpit’ of the monitors and navigated the PowerPoint; to Al and Elizabeth for assisting with the passing of the object trays; and to Jeffrey for taking some photos. As you can see from the images, Elizabeth did an amazing job restoring the 1920s chiffon dress (look at that celluloid paste buckle!) and adjusting the reconstruction of an 1870s bustle silhouette.

DMDA Launch – 25 November 2021

On Thursday 25 November 2021, we launched this pilot version of the DMDA website with a reception in the Humanities Research Centre at the University of York. We were delighted to welcome colleagues from York and beyond and lots of students.

Susan Vincent and Cordula van Wyhe gave talks about their work on the DMDA and showed selected items from the Handling Collection of historic dress accessories.

During the following days, they gave interviews to the BBC Liz Green Radio Show and the BBC Radio York Breakfast Show.

Museum Gardens, York – 4 August 2021

Our first event saw us heading out to introduce the project and to offer people the chance to have fun with our handling collection.

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From Art Deco designs to vinaigrettes and vesta cases, from lethal hat pins to the dinkiest of patch boxes, these accessories intrigued many of our visitors. The Victorian skirt-lifter was a particular favourite, as was the 1920s make-up compact, sleekly chic in a startling electric blue.

You really get a sense of the physicality of it. I’ve read about all these things, but it’s lovely to see them – to see what they actually look like.

We couldn’t have been more delighted as groups and individuals engaged with the collection, learning from the objects but teaching us too. In some cases, the items prompted personal recollections.

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This sort of oral history builds bridges between the present and the past, and shows us these little accessories in ordinary lives and everyday experience.

This is absolutely fascinating. It takes me back, it takes me back!

One or two of our visitors began to reflect on objects that had been passed down to them or that they had collected. Our aim in the DMDA is to make it a portal through which individuals can share such items more generally, making it a community exhibition space where images can be uploaded and co-curated.

But other visitors were more practically engaged, trying their hand at patching.

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This activity, designed to celebrate our inaugural room in the DMDA, was our take on the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century fashion of applying facial patches. Today we might call them beauty spots. Originally shapes cut from silk fabrics, we made do with black paper and a hole punch. Top tip: if you want to get into this trend, vaseline will make them stick. 

It really brings history close when you see the things that people would have touched and the way they would have adorned themselves.

Our thanks to our splendid student helpers, without whose enthusiasm and energy we would have been bereft; and to our videographer, both for his excellent film footage and his life-saving gazebo, without which, when the heavens opened, we would have been drowned.

But most particularly, thanks to our wonderful visitors!