Antiques & The Arts

18th-Century Court Suit: Behind the Scenes at The Costume Institute Conservation Laboratory

This is a man’s suit from the 18th century
that would have been worn to court in the final days
of the French monarchy. This is the white tie
of its time period. The silk velvet is woven
with stripes, so you see this pink ground
fabric behind. My job is
to make it strong enough that it can be exhibited. The lining gets a lot
of wear and tear as it goes on and off
of mannequins. And so, I’m using new fabrics
and new stitches to make it structurally stable
and strong. That there’s an overlay
of sheer fabric, that will protect
the original material from any abrasion,
and future researchers can still see
that original material even through
the conservation work. On the waistcoat, the fabric
around the buttons split, so I sewed them closed. A lot of the needles
that I used are curved needles designed
for eye surgeons. The tailor and the embroiderer
used fabric, needles, and threads. I’m using
the same three materials, so I see myself as
the continuation of the work that went into the suit, and now I’m just helping it
to travel into the future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *