Fastening your robe, 17th century style by Jeannine Cook

As I looked at portraits of 17th century Spanish royal ladies in the Prado, they suddenly offered a fascinating sampling of how women fasten their dresses. Not for them a simple method of closing their dress. Rather, the fastening became part of the bold, imaginative design of the gown, part of the message of power, wealth and circumstance that was so dazzlingly recorded in paint by Court painters.

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Silk by Jeannine Cook

Silk has always been my favourite material, sensuous to wear yet so practical and comfortable in all weathers. It is always beautiful, whether patterned, plain, embroidered or subtly woven with textures in it.  Even its names - shantung, habutai, tussore, chiffon, taffeta, dupioni, tussah - sound exotic and alluring. One of my earliest connections with silk was the realisation that mulberry leaves, from a tree that I loved and knew well at my home in East Africa, were what feed the silk worms for 35 days, before they are ready to spin a cocoon with their continuous fine silken thread that eventually measures over a mile when it is carefully unwound, prior to being woven into cloth.

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