Enjoy these videos highlighting our Spring Festival celebration of fashion, film and design.
For those who weren't able to join us for the popular Puttin' on the Glitz - Fashion and Film in the Jazz Age talk - you can watch the entire talk in three parts below!
Spring Festival highlights: Inspiring stories, vinyl & film
Using The British Newspaper Archive to tell stories on Twitter; exploring our vinyl record collection plus award-winning screenwriter Tony Grisoni and Bafta-nominated director Jamie Stone on film.
Spring Festival highlights: Fashion, film and glitz
Fashion historian Amber Jane Butchart and editor of Clothes on Film Christopher Laverty on vintage fashion, film and Boardwalk Empire. Plus The Vintage Mafia take over the Library for a night of Jazz Age glamour with Alex Mendham & His Orchestra.
Part 1 - Puttin on the Glitz - Fashion and Film in the Jazz Age - Fashion historian Amber Jane Butchart
Fashion extraordinaire Amber Jane Butchart transports us to the glitz and glamour of Jazz Age Hollywood and the costumes that took London by storm. She draws on the Library's collection of vintage magazines.
Part 2 - Puttin' on the Glitz - Fashion and Film in the Jazz Age - Clothes on Film creator Christopher Laverty
The ever dapper Christopher Laverty examines the flamboyantly dressed 'Dandy Gangster' as portrayed in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.
Part 3 - Puttin' on the Glitz - Fashion and Film in the Jazz Age - Q&A
When we hosted a show and tell of our vinyl record collection back in November the feedback was so positive I knew we had to run it again. I love spotlighting our massive vinyl collection (over 240,000!) because it always surprises people who think we're just a very serious library full of books (which is only partly true). So in the spirit of Spring Festival, creativity, discovery and inspiration our curator of pop music Andy Linehan dug deep into our archive and brought out some real gems to illustrate the history of the album to an audience of graphic designers, filmmakers and curious music lovers.
Those tubes are wax cylinders - developed by Thomas Edison in the late 1880s.
Left: Jeremy Deller’sEnglish Magic EP, the musical soundtrack to a film made by Dellar for the British Pavilion at the 2013 Biennale di Venezia. Limited triple vinyl edition, ours is #78 of 300 hand-signed and numbered by Deller with sleeve artwork designed by Deller including a 10x10” photographic print hand tipped on the front cover.
Right: An LP by Man, a 1970s Welsh rock band, with a fold-out hand-drawn map of Wales with features and places important to the band. (Photographs by Luca Sage)
Andy also showed us these two weird and wonderful albums:
Left: Atom Earth Mother’s Ancient Faith, a double LP plus CD and insert housed in a hand-built, fire-branded wooden box. Limited edition of 250 copies. (Via boomkat)
Right: Sounds of Silence, a compilation of “silent” tracks from various artists including Crass, Andy Warhol, John Lennon and Orbital which puns on the title of a Simon & Garfunkel LP and rips off its cover. (Via dummymag)
We ran an experimental storytelling workshop as part of Spring Festival called History Relived. We wanted to explore a new way of telling stories using digital platforms and archives so we used The British Newspaper Archive and Twitter. The result: eight stories ranging from a murder mystery, a divorce case and one that involves a horse ruining a dinner party. You can view them all here.
Here's Chris Dymond from Crossover Labs explaining the day's activities.
Exploring the British Newspaper Archive. Some groups also used the Library's Flickr photostream which includes over 1 million images that are free from copyright restrictions.
This group had a lot of fun - you could hear them laughing from anywhere in the Conference Centre. (Their story is the one with the horse in it.) Filmmakers, television producers, creative writing students and other creative practitioners took part.
Creating new Twitter accounts. This is Heinrich Weichmann @HeiWei93 a cigar-loving German who moves to Kansas with his wife Birgit Weichmann @BirgWeich. A whirlwind affair unfolds involving #schnitzel, #RailroadCommencementGala and complications with a family inheritance. Inspired by a newspaper article from 1893.
In the end every group presented and we looked at their story's Twitter feed. Lots of laughter again.
Whether you're working in film, television, documentary, writing fiction or non-fiction, The British Newspaper Archive is a fantastic resource for exploring histories and getting inspiration for new work. I could see a lot of BNA articles translated into Downton Abbey episodes, e.g. or a period feature film like Sherlock Holmes. The archive is massive - over 240 titles and 7 million pages - so it can be overwhelming. I recommend checking out the BNA's blog to get a flavour of what's available. Enjoy!
Spring Festival 2014 is officially finished and we had a fabulous time! Here are some photos from the most popular event Puttin' on the Glitz - Fashion and Film in the Jazz Age which began with a talk by the ever so stylish Amber Jane Butchart and Christopher Laverty and ended with roaring cocktail party.
Amber referring to the Library's vintage magazine collection. I don't know anyone who looks as good as her in a turban.
Chris is obsessed with the costumes in HBO series Boardwalk Empire. Here he's detailing the show's exquisite suit tailoring - see how the pattern on Nucky Thompson/Steve Buscemi's jacket is perfectly lined up? Nice. I think Chris himself looks like a character from the show!
'Always well-dressed, not always well-behaved' - our fabulous cocktail party hosts - The Vintage Mafia.
Twitter in the 1890s – what would it look like? What events would people tweet about?
We are surrounded by digital platforms that we use every day, to check what's new, to share pictures and films, to comment and recommend. But what happens when you use them to tell stories? We will challenge participants to use items from the Library's British Newspaper Archive (BNA) as a starting point for entertainment that they will create using twitter accounts to re-enact historical events.
This is a highly entertaining activity that often forms part of a Crossover Lab, the day will be fun and competitive - but it also has a point: we will be examining the nature of interactive media, lifting the lid on where creativity comes from and exploring techniques for telling stories across multiple platforms whilst opening up the archives to give the participants, and people following along, a glimpse of its treasures.
Here's an example of what may come out of the workshop using an aritcle from the Illustrated Police News dated Saturday 15th October 1892
About the British Newspaper Archive (BNA) The British Newspaper Archive provides online access to local and regional newspapers from Britain and Ireland, dating back to the 1700s. The newspapers are fully searchable and can reveal fascinating forgotten stories from the past. The website is a partnership project between the British Library and DC Thomson Family History.
The BNA have kindly given workshop particpiants free access to the archives for the day. All images used are published courtesy of the BNA. Hat tip to the BNA!
Our Spring Festival Puttin' on the Glitz - Fashion and Film in the Jazz Age talk is sold out but the good news is you can tune in via live webcast! Just click here to sign up and watch the talk for free (from the comfort of your glamorous pad - like the mademoiselle below!) on Friday, 28 March from 18.30 - 20.00 London time.
If you're on Twitter, send us your questions with the hashtag #BLSpring and follow me @BL_Creative.
There are still tickets available for the cocktail party afterwards here.The 'always well-dress, not always well-behaved' Vintage Mafia are hosting.
Step into our boudoir and get your hair done in Jazz Age style by Pretty Me Vintage before getting snapped in Hanson Leatherby’s Travelling Portrait Studio. The Vintage News will be interviewing the glitziest guests and Alex Mendham & His Orchestra - the UK’s foremost deco era dance band – will make you Charleston the night away!
Back in October we launched our second short film competition The Sound Edit: British Accents and Dialects at the London Film Festival with IdeasTap. In January we short listed ten entrants who were given £500 to make a film inspired by our sound archive and today I'm very happy to announce the winning entry. Drumroll please....
James's boldly experimental short wordlessly captures the dialect term ‘plodge’ both visually and sonically. We were captivated by his quietly innovative and meditative visual method and we wanted to watch it again and again.
'Plodge', to the anonymous member of the public who recorded the word at our Evolving English exhibition, means to to wade through water.
Many congratulations James!
We are screening Honeycomb on Monday, 31 March at our Spring Festival Inspiring Filmmakers event with four award-winning short films including Beat starring Ben Whishaw. You can also hear stories and mingle with acclaimed filmmakers Tony Grisoni (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), Celia Barnett (all eight Harry Potter films!), Tony Noble (Moon) and up and coming director Jamie Stone (Orbit Ever After). This event is in partnership with the good people at Cinema Jam and Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival. For more information and to book tickets click here.
Stills from 'Honeycomb (Plodge)' directed by James Spinney
About James Spinney
James studied English Literature to MA level and now works as a freelance editor. With directing partner Peter Middleton, his short film Rainfall was nominated for the ICA Experimental Film Award and won the Best Short Award at Hot Docs 2013. The follow up - Notes on Blindness - was commissioned by the New York Times Op-Docs and selected for Sundance and SXSW 2014. James and Peter are currently developing Notes on Blindnessinto a feature film.
Spring Festival is only a week away - don’t miss our Inspiring Filmmakers event with screenwriter/director Tony Grisoni (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), art department researcher Celia Barnett (all eight Harry Potter films!), production designer Tony Noble (Moon) and up and coming director Jamie Stone (Orbit Ever After). More info and tickets here.
Today’s guest blog on film costumes is written by students from Central Saint Martins Fashion History and Theory course.
Sunset Boulevard (1950) was one of the most critically acclaimed movies of the 20th century. Directed by Billy Wilder, it tells the tragic come-back story of fading silent movie star, Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) and the troubled companionship she finds in Joe Gillis (William Holden), a struggling screenwriter. The costumes were designed by Academy Award winner Edith Head.
A real icon of the silent-film era, Swanson fit the role of Norma perfectly. References to Swanson’s film career are dotted throughout the film and her personal photographs decorate Norma’s fictional mansion. Head later said that she had drawn on Swanson’s expertise and authenticity when designing her costumes.
The costumes epitomise the darker side of mid-century Hollywood glitz. Head’s designs for Norma resembled Christian Dior’s New Look of the late 1940s, combined with hints of Jazz Age glamour. Norma's signature look is leopard print. The first time we meet Norma, she is dressed in a sweeping house gown trimmed with leopard and topped with a leopard turban. Later, we see her dressed head-to-toe in leopard fabric whilst lounging by the pool.
The dramatic final scene reveals Norma dressed in what is arguably her most significant costume: an off the shoulder glittering evening gown with a jewelled snake bracelet coiled around her arm and sequins sprinkled over her bare shoulder. - Jihane Dyer
Ian McEwan’s Atonement, tells the tale of forbidden love and family conflict before, during, and after World War II. The novel, published in 2001, was adapted into a film in 2007 by director Joe Wright. Both works harmoniously introduce us to the confident aristocrat Cecilia Tallis (Keira Knightley), her sister and aspiring writer Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan) and their housekeeper's promising son, Robbie Turner (James McAvoy).
Nearly a character itself is Cecilia's iconic, green silk gown. Costume designer Jacqueline Durran, (Pride & Prejudice, 2005 and Anna Karenina, 2012) created the provocative dress with a flowing bias cut that transforms within different scenes. Durran added slits to allow for movement in that intense sex scene. The knot that decorated the front of the dress is a nod to a classic 1930s design and was used to symbolise Cecilia's virginity. In 2008 Durran won a Bafta for Best Costume Design. - Angelina Todd
The 1968 cult classic Barbarella starring Jane Fonda takes us on a futuristic fantasy journey in her shag pile spaceship to seek out missing scientist Durand Durand. While the plot remains a fairly simplistic sequence of Fonda getting herself into danger, it does lead to a showcase of incredible outfits.
Based on a comic book tale, Barbarella required costumes that embody a glamorous vision of the future and also represent a sense of comic surrealism. French costume designer Jacques Fonteray, took influence from the work of Spanish fashion designer Paco Rabanne who was known for his of use innovative materials. As a result, costumes were made from PVC, Perspex and chain mail. Rabanne was personally involved in creating a green dress made of linked plastic tiles, which gave Fonda an almost reptilian-like appearance while still carrying a 1960s silhouette. - Hannah Beach
For a full line-up of Spring Festival events visit: bl.uk/spring