Today I’ve added a new page to the site to accommodate another branch of my work – clothing. This comes at a time when a place that fuses my two loves of costume and architecture is under threat, and I digress a moment to mention this. Shambellie House, Scotland’s National Museum of Costume, is facing closure. I first read of its plight a few weeks ago and was saddened and shocked to think this cultural asset could be lost, considering the value of the building itself and the collection it houses.
Both were gifted to NMS in 1977 by Charles Stewart after many years of care and attention invested in the accumulation and preservation of his rich collection. It’s disappointing that his kind bequest may not prevail, and worrying that use as a national museum might not secure the future of the house. At present NMS have refused Shambellie a 12 month grace period which would allow time to consider alternatives to closure, and a final decision on the fate of the museum is expected to be announced in February. You can read more about a campaign to save Shambellie House here.
My own interest in costume (and clothing in general) has been longstanding, and this is in fact what I specialized in during my time at Central Saint Martins. I’ve never received formal training in sewing or pattern cutting, but taught myself using a second hand machine and grew to love the experimental process of first altering and later constructing my own garments. While still at school I undertook numerous fashion and costume projects inspired by various sources, and this love of making clothes first collided with my passion for ruins when I began using these places as locations for photographing the outfits I made. I realised they offered the most atmospheric and intriguing backdrop, and enjoyed staging several photo-shoots at various abandoned mansions.
It wasn’t until the final term of my foundation course that these two passions were further united. My end of year project was entitled ‘RUINED’, and saw me using a particular derelict country house as stimulus for my menswear collection. Of the pieces I designed I made a Harris Tweed waistcoat, which was later chosen to be shown at the V&A museum as part of a group exhibition. The time constraints of a final assessment limited this project to some extent and I still have many unexplored ideas in mind which I’d like to develop in the future. Hopefully more architectural attire will make its way to this new page in time.