Thursday, 13 November 2008

Jean Muir

Today I had a bit of spare time after my last (and only) lecture of the day. Usually I do a shift at Banardo's Vintage on Thursdays, but I've swapped my shift this week for a bit of a change from routine. Anyway, to fill my time I thought I'd pop into the Jean Muir exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland as it is just a minute away from both the lecture theatre I was in and my flat.

I was quite proud of myself having the initiative to do something vaguely cultural for once, and it was definitely a good choice on my behalf. It's only a small exhibition - just one room and not too much to read - but I really enjoyed it.

Jean Muir was an English fashion designer born of Scottish parents; she is known to have said that she held her Scottish ancestry in high regards. Indeed, all her knitwear collections were made in Scotland from the finest locally sourced cashmere and lambswool. She was a major player in the British design revolution of the 1960s, having founded her own label Jane & Jane in 1961, her pieces being renowned for their simplicity, although they were all intricately and intelligently created. Also, Muir's pieces were all created with the female form in mind and as such complement the natural curves and contours to create alluring feminine silhouettes.

Although she is most famously known for her love of navy blue, she also created many amazing colourful and patterned items, although she believed that too much pattern ruined the cloth and as such "less is more" can be used to describe some of her many collections

One of her most colourful and extraordinary collections was Autumn 1988 (the collection which would have been around the time of my birth, connections or what?!) which was created especially for the Australian Bicentennial and was inspired by the Great Barrier Reef. The clothes from this collection are absolutely amazing, even though the vibrant colours such as shocking pink are usually a little lurid for my taste, she managed to make them look chic and alluring.

Although there is not an extentive collection of Jean Muir's work on show at the museum, if you are ever in Edinburgh (before next March anyway) then I really do reccomend you go and have a look. Personally I was far too tempted to touch the pieces, and maybe even run away with one or two of the dresses. Luckily for my criminal record I resisted the temptation.

One of the things I found most interesting about the exhibition was the way that the styles that Muir showcased in her work as early as the 1960s still look very wearable today. Granted some of the hemlines were a little low for my liking, but this could just be due to my ridiculously short legs which make mini skirts essential to stop myself looking like a hobbit, but in general I would have been more than happy to have the opportunity to own some of her fabulous designs.

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