Christmas is coming and many of us will be looking out our sparkly tops for festive gatherings. Decorative beadwork has been used to embellish textiles throughout history, as far back as in Ancient Egypt.
AberdeenArt Gallery & Museums has a collection of costumes and accessories featuring lovely examples of decorative beadwork.
Beaded braiding and trimming was readily available to dressmakers from the 1850s onwards and was a quick and easy way to embellish an outfit.
The purple printed silk dress with a high neck, below, is trimmed with beaded black lace.
It dates from the 1850s and was worn by the wife of a minister from Rathven near Peterhead as her going away outfit following their wedding. The skirt is very full and would have needed several petticoats to support it.
Most Victorian and Edwardian evening dresses were sleeveless and were worn with shoulder-length gloves.
The fabulous black suede evening gloves were made in France between 1890 and 1910 and are decorated and trimmed with ribbon, lace, sequins and beads.
Beadwork was popular in the 1920s and 1930s and beaded accessories complemented the simple elegant lines of fashionable evening dresses during that period.
The sleeveless burgundy velvet evening dress, below, far right, has a black lace trim and diamanté and beadwork decoration.
The dressmaker has cleverly drawn attention to the fashionable dropped waistline by emphasising the area with diamanté decoration.
This black and cream beaded evening purse, below, has a floral pattern worked in pearls outlined in silver-blue bugle beads.
Bugle beads are small narrow tubes of glass that catch the light. The purse also features a twist clasp fastening on a rectangular silvered frame.
This striking orange taffeta evening dress, right, has the fitted boned bodice and full flared skirt typical of the 1950s. It is decorated with gold embroidery and red beads to form a stylised floral motif down the two front panels. It was made by Baroque Ltd in London.
Beadwork never seems to go out of fashion and is still popular today – just look around you on your Christmas night out and see how many sparkly beaded outfits you can see!
Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums:
- Aberdeen Art Gallery
- Aberdeen Maritime Museum (open 7 days, admission free)
- The Tolbooth Museum (open 7 days, admission free)
- Aberdeen Treasure Hub Museum Centre
For visiting information go to www.aagm.co.uk
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