50th Anniversary of Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion

13. c1680-90 bodice small 2014 was the 50th anniversary of the Patterns of Fashion series. We held a one-day event from 10.30am – 4.30pm on the 31st January 2015 to celebrate the anniversary at The Art Workers’ Guild in Bloomsbury, Central London. Both presentations and demonstrations on the subject of ‘Patterns Past, Present and Future‘ were given and there was a selection of Janet’s original drawings on display with some of our students’ work based on her patterns.

Presentations included ‘Janet Arnold and the Future of Patterns of Fashion’ by Jenny Tiramani, ‘Patterns of historic garments and dress research’ by Johannes Pietsch, ‘From 16th century masterbooks to Simplicity patterns‘ by Melanie Braun, ‘Observe to understand, observe to think, observe to recreate; different aspects of reading a costume‘ by Thessy Schoenholzer Nichols, ‘Changing dimensions: the art of pattern drawing‘ by Claire Thornton, ‘Fashioning the study of dress through x-radiography‘ by Mary Brooks & Sonia O’Connor, ‘Dead Men’s Patterns’  by Hormazd Narielwalla, ‘Macro photography for patterns’ by Cristina Carr and ‘Using patterns for film and theatre’ by Luca Costigliolo.

‘Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction c. 1660-1860’ was first published by Wace in 1964. Fifty years on, Jenny Tiramani and Luca Costigliolo are preparing Janet Arnold’s ‘Patterns of Fashion 5: The cut and construction of women’s bodies, stays, hoops and rumps c. 1600-1795’ for publication in 2015. Future volumes of Patterns of Fashion are planned on the subjects of seventeenth and eighteenth century men’s dress, the dress of men and women in Renaissance Europe, eighteenth century women’s European dress and nineteenth century women’s corsets, crinolines and bustles.


IN FINE STYLE: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion

The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, the Royal Collection Trust Summer 2013

We worked with Anna Reynolds, the curator of the exhibition, helping to source suitable fabrics to display for the visitors to touch.

on wall

Claire Thornton and Jenny Tiramani were recorded for the audio tablets the visitors could listen to while looking at the paintings. They both gave talks at the joint V&A/Royal Collection study day that took place on the 1st June 2013 at the V&A Museum.

Claire Thornton worked a 1:1 sample of the embroidery motifs decorating the c.1610 waistcoat, on loan from the Fashion Museum, Bath. There was a video of Claire working the sample and talking about the skill involved for the visitors’ audio-visual tablets. She also made garments for children to dress up in and have their photographs taken behind a full-length picture frame.

Jenny Tiramani contributed commentaries to some of the portraits on the visitor tablets, including one on the perils of going out in the rain and of wearing clothing with metal thread fabrics and decorations in the Tudor and Stuart periods.

The School ran a hands-on study day ‘Dressing in Fine Style: Ruffled, Laced and Slashed’ at the Queen’s Gallery on the 22nd June 2013.



We held an evening of dressings and undressings of Elizabethan and Jacobean characters for a Late Shift at the NPG on Friday October 25th 2013. The event was free of charge and an estimated three thousand people visited the gallery during the course of the evening.

Jenny Tiramani was Guest Curator for the evening and produced a free booklet with the gallery on the John Donne poem, ‘On His Mistress Going to Bed’. This poem was brought to life in the lecture theatre by actors Jonathan Oliver and Lizzie Philips, while members of the School talked to the visitors in the galleries about what it feels like to wear hand-made reconstructed dress of the period.

NPG Eve 1

Eve Goodman talking to visitors about wearing reconstructed Elizabethan clothing.