Tag Archives: fashion

Art for Everyone’s Sake

Art books collage 1

Westminster Reference Library, home of the specialist Art & Design Collection, now has art books for loan. Visit us at 35 St Martin’s Street and browse through our growing collection of inclusive, engaging and expertly written books on a wide range of art interests. The publications shown here are just some of our most recent additions:

Hieronymus Bosch; The Complete WorksHieronymus Bosch; The Complete Works combines new research with superb reproductions to celebrate this unique and visionary painter. His fantasies, grotesques and drolleries, set in natural surroundings, appear as fresh and eloquent today as they were 500 years ago.

Menswear illustration, by Richard KilroyFashion students! The explosion of international sales in menswear means that drawing is no longer dominated by women’s fashions. Menswear Illustration is the first survey of this new trend and features 40 innovative illustrators of contemporary styles in menswear.

Natural histories: extraordinary rare book selections from the American Museum of Natural History library, by Tom BaioneNatural Histories presents selected masterpieces of scientific art from 16th century zoologies to 20th century treatises. Essays by experts in their field explain how these scientifically significant, richly illustrated studies played integral roles throughout the history of natural sciences.

The Craft Companion by Ramona BarryBeautiful or bonkers The Craft Companion offers 170 projects to learn 33 crafting techniques, with inspiration from 150 contemporary artists. Try working with traditional materials (wood, leather, gold leaf) or turn to page 378 and make a recycled Terrarium for your plastic dinosaurs.

Art photography, by David BateArt Photography provides a fascinating introduction to the crucial role of painting in the invention of photography, and the importance of photography in the development of modern art. Visual examples from the 19th – 21st centuries illustrate how global this field of art has become.

Bernard Leach by Edmund De WaalBernard Leach is the first biography and critical monograph of this renowned 20th century potter whose ceramics, writings and teaching hold a central place in the international history of the decorative arts.


Making sculpture from scrap metal by Peter ParkinsonMetal workers have recycled broken tools and other scrap since the Bronze Age, but only in the 20th century did artists start using such items to make sculpture. Making Sculpture from Scrap Metal puts this artistic practice into context, describes the concerns and techniques involved, and illustrates these with the work of contemporary sculptors.

Looking at pictures: an introduction to art for young people through the National Gallery collection, by Joy RichardsonWhat are paintings for? This and other topics including colour, light, symbols and techniques are discussed in Looking at Pictures, the National Gallery’s excellent introduction to art for young people. Don’t let this put you off: it’s an illuminating mini-history of European painting.

Contemporary design Africa by Tapiwa MatsindeContemporary Design Africa is the first book on the innovative and sophisticated uses of traditional crafts taking place across the continent.   Over the past 100 years communities have used manufactured “rubbish” to make footwear, household goods, even toys. This practice, alongside the cultural use of natural materials, is an inspiration for any designer.

Alfred Wallis by Matthew GaleAlfred Wallis fisherman and marine stores dealer, is now recognised as one of the most original British artists of the 20th century. In the light of new research, this book traces the development of his painting from when he started 1925, until his death in 1942 at the age of 87.

If you want to borrow these or other art books, bring in your membership card; or bring proof of your home address and join the library for free. We are off the south side of Leicester Square, behind the main wing of the National Gallery. For more information, contact the library.

Art books collage 2


3D Printing, Break Dancing, Beast Wagon and more

Westminster BiPs logoDid you know that half of young people in the UK aged 16 to 24 want to start their own business? Well, Westminster Councillors certainly do and when they decided to launch Westminster’s first Enterprise Week , to coincide with Global Entrepreneurship Week 11-22 November 2015, the focus was firmly on young people and access to enterprise.

With this in mind, we hosted an Enterprise Fair at Westminster Reference Library, one of many events held across the council and in BIP libraries for Enterprise Week, showcasing the range of business support and assistance for enterprise and self-employment, creative courses, programmes, apprenticeships, funding and more, offered by organisations from a cross section of industries including fashion, music, dance, food, graphic novels and more.

We were delighted to have with us as stall holders on the day the London College of Beauty TherapyIndustry in the StreetsFashion Retail AcademyNatWest Enterprise,  Westminster Enterprise CentrePortobello Business CentrePaddington Development Trust, Maida Hill PlaceBusiness Launchpad,  Orbital ComicsRain Crew, Young Enterprise and Producer/Presenter N. N. D. who featured sound bites from participants for her programme on The Workplace on ResonanceFM.

Julie Bundy & Simon Aslaaf from Maida Hill Place, at Westminster Reference Library's Enterprise Fair, November 2015

Julie Bundy & Simon Assaf from Maida Hill Place

The day’s highlights also featured guest speakers who shared business journeys and industry insights. We heard from Julie Bundy & Simon Assaf from Maida Hill Place , a social enterprise offering tailored support for food industry start-ups, who spoke about food enterprise and the Pop-Up economy, and why food remains their passion – for Julie, it’s the power of food to bring people together under even the most challenging circumstances; for Simon, it was the food industry’s capacity to stay afloat despite the advent of the internet, where, as he reminded us, you still can’t fry an egg!

Clint Sinclair and Sharifa M Momad breakdance at Westminster Reference Library's Enterprise Fair, November 2015

Clint Sinclair and Sharifa M Momad breakdance

We were also delighted to have Westminster’s very own Clint Sinclair, in his guise as managing director of Rain Crew London Dance, a non-­profit company working to bring people together through dance, delivering classes, events, performances and community based projects. From Clint and guests we learned about the world of the break dancers or b-boys, and the dance ‘battles’ or competitions that take them all over the world. With fellow dancer Sharifa Tonkmor, Clint gave a brilliant live breakdance performance and then introduced guest Spin (aka Juan David Gaviria), a successful B-Boy dancer who spoke eloquently about how looking to his future, he successfully combined his dancing with enterprise by training to become a barber.

Beast Wagon, created by Owen Michael JohnsonThis was followed by Chris Thomson, Event manager at Orbital Comics who chaired a fascinating discussion with Owen Michael Johnson, twice British Comic Award-nominated writer & artist and creator of Beast Wagon, a black comedy comic book series set in a zoo, and Jason Atomic, artist and all round cross cultural creative & performer.

All talked about how drawing as youngsters shaped their future careers and the economic & creative challenges of working in the comics/graphic novel industry. The panel discussion was recorded and is scheduled to be featured on Orbital as a podcast early next year.

We had 3D Printer demonstrations taking place throughout the day, engaging and entertaining visitors, who also had fun with the 3D goggles.

The 3D Printer - guest star at Westminster Reference Library's Enterprise Fair, November 2015

The 3D Printer – guest star!

We enjoyed the day and especially the opportunity to promote Westminster Libraries Business Information Point services and our special collections in fashion, art & design and performing arts here at Westminster Reference Library. We would like to thank everyone who took part and supported the Enterprise Fair.


Get knitted

If you’re keen to embrace this season’s fashion for chunky knitted items but want to avoid the designer price tag, or if news stories about ‘yarn-bombing‘ have caught your eye – look no further. Westminster Libraries can help.

Knitting needles

Knit VintageKnitting and crochet have enjoyed something of a resurgence in recent years. Fashion mores, the Etsy / Folksy / vintage trend and, perhaps, the return to austerity have all played their part. Staff across the Triborough library services have caught the bug too – RBKC Libraries recently blogged about it.

Animal HatsYou can find many books on knitting and crochet in our libraries – recent titles include Knit Vintage (patterns for ‘starlet sweaters’ and other knitwear from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s) and Animal Hats (the title is self-explanatory, but some of the designs have to be seen to be believed!).

Knitting needles

I asked Gill, one of our resident knitting gurus, which reference gems she would particularly recommend. Here are her top three:

  1. Ultimate Knitting Bible: a complete reference with step-by-step techniques, by Sharon Brandt. “As the title suggests, it is an excellent guide for both novice and experienced knitters”.
  2. A Stitch in Time: Vintage Knitting and Crochet patterns 1920-1949, by Jane Waller. “The patterns have been reworked for modern yarns”.
  3. Mary Thomas’s Book of Knitting Patterns “Another technique book”.

A simple catalogue search for the words ‘knitting or crochet’ yields 25 titles on our shelves published in 2012 alone – or have a browse through the stock in your local library and get started!

Knitting needles

Finally, one of the loveliest aspects of knitting’s resurgence is the revival of the knitting circle. Libraries are in on that too, with a long-established group at Church Street Library on Saturdays and a craft session with Timebank every other Friday at Maida Vale Library.  This week is a good week to pick up your needles (or crochet hooks), as two more groups are starting up:

So what are you waiting for? There’s no minimum skill level, everyone’s welcome – it’s time to knit!

[Ali, Gill]

London in the 1960s

A Jaeger advert from 1965-67 - Image copyright of Jaeger Co

A Jaeger advert from 1965-67. Image copyright of Jaeger Co.

In 1965, Diana Vreeland, editor of Vogue, famously quoted that “London is the most swinging city in the world at the moment”.

For those with an appreciation of the cultural explosion that was the 1960s (whether you were there or not) the book London in the Sixties by Rainer Metzger is a visual feast.

Drawing together iconic images from the decade, including examples of the photography and art that epitomised the period, this book provides a colourful and kaleidoscopic glimpse of this exciting era including the music, theatre, film and, for the dedicated follower of fashion, a glimpse in to the voguish trends of the day.

A book on London in the ‘Swinging’ Sixties would not be complete without some reference to Westminster and, of course, Carnaby Street with its ‘Carnabetian Army’ of mods and hippies flocking to the fashionable boutiques. 1960s fashion can be explored further through the fashion collections held at City of Westminster Archives Centre.

London in the sixties, by Rainer MetzgerBrowsing through the book’s 342 illustrations (including a generous 137 in colour) other local highlights include the Beatles at Buckingham Palace, Lady Chatterley in Charing Cross Road, mass demonstrations in Hyde Park and Jimi Hendrix in St. Marylebone. Putting fashion and popular culture aside, Metzger also explores the important intellectual and political ideologies that fuelled a generation, and which led to the introduction of cultural reforms and new social freedoms.

You can explore more fascinating photographs of 1960s Westminster by visiting the Archives Centre. As well as photos of Soho in the Sixties, the Centre also hold the archives of Jaeger and Liberty, with eye-catching publicity material showing the fashions of the day. Find out more by visiting our Special Collections page.

A Liberty window display, 1969 - Image Copyright of Liberty Ltd

A Liberty window display, 1969. Image Copyright of Liberty Ltd


Celebrating fashion history as we hit the sales!

Shoppers hit the Regent Street Liberty store in the 1920s. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

Shoppers hit the Regent Street Liberty store in the 1920s. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

In these opening weeks of 2012, hundreds of thousands of people have flocked to the West End’s shopping districts to ease the post-festive season blues by hitting the shops.

The January sales are not a new attraction: catalogues at the City of Westminster Archives Centre show how bargain-hunting was a big draw for Londoners and visitors as far back as the 1890s, and photographs show shoppers eyeing up stock on sale at Liberty’s in the 1920s.

What would you wear? Fashions from William Whiteley’s Westbourne Grove store, 1885. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

What would you wear? Fashions from William Whiteley’s Westbourne Grove store, 1885. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

People have been lifting their mood by investing in wardrobe updates for centuries, and the psychological and cultural relationships between individuals and the clothes they wear has long been analysed and documented.

The Chronology of Fashion, by NJ StevensonA recent contributor to this field of study, acquired for the reference collection at the City of Westminster Archives Centre, is NJ Stevenson’s The Chronology of Fashion.

Stevenson’s book, which traces the development of modern fashion (from 1800 onwards), contains sumptuous full-colour illustrations depicting trends ranging from the Empire-line silhouette of the Regency era, through to Victorian whale-bone corsets, outlandish 1980s post-punk creations and ending with an intriguing forecast of what we’ll be wearing in 2020.


From health to high fashion: the amazing origins of Jaeger Ltd

Dr Jaeger's Sanitary Woollen System Co Ltd, Regent Street, 1898. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

Dr Jaeger’s Sanitary Woollen System Co Ltd, Regent Street, 1898. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

London Fashion Week: six frenzied days when the world of haute couture turns its discerning gaze on catwalks across the capital. Although it’s an international festival, there’s no finer opportunity to explore our home-grown talent and to celebrate London’s contribution to cutting-edge fashion.

On Tuesday, Jaeger London will be modelling its new collections at the show. The fashion house is known for its classic lines and timeless chic, but did you know that it started off life as a sanitary woollens company?

The Jaeger Archives are deposited at Westminster City Archives and reveal the fascinating development of one of fashion’s favourite brands. The philosophy behind the company was derived from the writings of a certain Dr Jaeger, who advocated the use of natural, breathable wools to stave off coughs, colds and other nasty illnesses.

Early catalogues for the company contained samples of the wool for customers to touch and examine – it was the fabric, not the designs, that was the real selling point in the early days.

In the 20th century, Jaeger moved from health clothing to haute couture, but it retained its interest in practical clothing, and had a very successful sportswear line. Among other lines, Jaeger’s swim wear ranges were a revelation for fashion-conscious women of the 1930s!

Jaeger Ladies' Swim and sun suits catalogue, 1938. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

Jaeger Ladies’ Swim and sun suits catalogue, 1938. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

You can learn more about the Jaeger collections at Westminster City Archives by visiting us this Saturday (18 Sept) for our Open House Event. We’ll be offering free tours of the Archives Centre on the hour, every hour, from 10.00am to 4.00pm. We’ll be showcasing historic items from Jaeger Ltd, as well as a whole range of intriguing exhibits from the rest of our local studies and archives collections.

Alternatively you’re welcome to pop in to have a look at the collections during our normal opening hours. Our friendly enquiry team are always happy to help, so come along to the Archives and discover more about London’s fashion heritage!