Charles Wade was an eccentric collector who amassed a huge variety of historic artefacts at his Cotswold home, Snowshill Manor. He was fascinated by the aura of old, beautiful and well-made objects, and Snowshill is still an extraordinarily evocative place to visit.
After the National Trust acquired Wade’s collections the costumes were taken to Berrington to improve their storage conditions. The Hidden Wardrobe now provides a glimpse of some of the 2,203 eighteenth- and nineteenth-century costume items in the collection.
I was particularly struck by these sumptuous men’s waistcoats from the late eighteenth century. I suppose these represented the style that the Regency dandy Beau Brummell was reacting against when he crafted the minimalist look that is still influencing men’s suits today.
These pre-Brummell waistcoats, by contrast, project a more exuberant kind of masculinity – more Versace than Armani, perhaps.
I am also fascinated by the interaction between the floral motifs, the colours and the background textures of the fabrics. They hint at the artistry of the anonymous tailors and embroiderers who created these items, now once again being brought to public attention through digital means.