Conservation for Active Minds and Busy Bodies, The National Trust, Killerton House
Conservation of costume for ‘Active Minds and Busy Bodies’, the 2020-23 Fashion exhibition at Killerton House that explores ‘how fashion has changed and adapted over time as the activities enjoyed on the country estate spread out into wider society.’
This involved the conservation of four bathing costumes, a ball gown and a corset on its original shop stand which is an iconic part of the collection.
Conservation of a shop display stand for a corset, a blue silk ball gown and four bathing costumes to illustrate the change in leisure and sportswear over time as sports and leisure activities that started off as country house activities became more widespread and popular.
The corset had been embellished with bright pink nylon net during the 20th century and exposed to a damp environment causing the steel boning to corrode. Light, uv radiation and moisture had led to the advanced fading and deterioration of the embroidered top of the display stand. The net was removed; the corset and stand cleaned and then the top of the stand given a full stitched support. The top was then further protected with a silk crepeline overlay painted to reveal the original design and to also reinstate the blue panel of the French flag.
The bathing costumes had minor damage, such as broken seams and insect damage to the wool.
The dress exhibited an unsusal pattern of fading where the silk had come into contact with fungal infestation or even with the silk covered wooden buttons during folded storage. In some areas the fading or bleaching was severe and associated with structural damage. After cleaning, the holes and splits were supported with colour-matched silk patches and the most vulnerable areas, such as the bottom roll at the hem, encased in colour-matched fine net.