This is the Layton Jacket. It was made in England around 1610-1615. The maker/designer is unknown but the garment is on display at the V&A museum. It is a woman’s waistcoat made from linen, and is embroidered with coloured silks, silver and gold thread and lined with coral silk. Waistcoats were long sleeved garments during this time, and opened down the from which fitted the waist. It is hand sewn and originally fastened with pink silk ribbons, although this was changed in the 1920s and the edging of gold lace was added. This garment is significant because its shown on the Portrait of Margaret Layton, painted by Gheeraerts, Marcus the younger 1561-1635.
Figure 7: Waistcoat, linen, embroidered with coloured silks, silver and silver-gilt thread, made 1610-1615, altered 1620, England.
Born in 1579 it is thought, (although it could be as late as 1790) Margaret Layton was the daughter of a wealthy wine merchant and grocer. She married Francis Layton one of the Master Yeoman of the Jewel House, Tower of London. The image below is an oil painting of Margaret painted around 1620 in London. Portraits like these became increasing common in the 17th century. It was important for individuals to dress well, of the most expensive garments to show their wealth and status. (vam.ac.uk n.d)
Figure 8: Portrait of Margaret Laton probably by Marcus Gheeraerts (the Younger), Britain, ca.1620
Looking at the sustainability of the garment, Linen was grown in parts of Wiltshire, as early as the middle ages. In 1306 there were linen drapers in Salisbury, who were producers as well as merchants, and weavers. In 1612 flax dressers were incorporated in the same area. Throughout the rest of the seventeenth century the development of linen weavers was up and down the country, yet predominantly in the sound as the soil in the area was the most suitable for growing flax. Linen was also imported from Germany during the 18th century as well as still being grown and weaved in England. This was because the linen grown in this country was of a course texture and it was possible to get it finer abroad. Going ahead to 1816 and 1826 there were two depressions and this affected the industry, and died out sometime during the 1880s. (Crittall 1959) The importation of linen was bound to affect the industry, but there its known that the fabric was only suitable for certain uses. The depression would have affected moral as well as the ability to employ and run mills this would have taken a massive knock. In 2012, Canada and Russia were the biggest producer of flax yet the highest quality is in Belgium. (Patwary, 2012)
If we look at the fact that the waist coat above would have been hand sewn, this is a massive sustainability issue. Labour costs are great in this day and age and there is no way that garments can be produced in high volumes, quickly today if they were hand sewn. The development of sewing machines would have played a massive part in producing garments quicker. Especially when machines can now embroider garments for us and again this no longer needs to be done by hand. It could be suggested that this garment would have been worth a lot of money therefore you are paying for the labour and quality of materials, yet again in today’s world ‘hand-made’ only works for small components of garments at times, like hand printed or hand painted. These garments are expensive today.
Patwary, E. (2012). Top Flax Growing Countries Of The World | Linen Fiber Production | Textile Fashion Study. [online] Textilefashionstudy.com. Available at: http://textilefashionstudy.com/top-flax-growing-countries-of-the-world-linen-fiber-production/ [Accessed 3 Apr. 2017].
‘Textile industries since 1550’, in A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 4, ed. Elizabeth Crittall (London, 1959), pp. 148-182. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/wilts/vol4/pp148-182 [accessed 3 April 2017].
Collections.vam.ac.uk. (n.d) Margaret Layton (formerly Laton) – V&A Search the Collections. [Online] Available at: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O69443/margaret-layton-formerly-laton-oil-painting-gheeraerts-marcus-the/ [Accessed 2 Apr. 2017].
Collections.vam.ac.uk. (n.d) The Layton Jacket – V&A Search the Collections. [Online] Available at: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O11095/the-layton-jacket-jacket-unknown/ [Accessed 2 Apr. 2017].
Figure 7 collections.vam.ac.uk. (n.d) The Layton Jacket – V&A Search the Collections. [Image] Available at: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O11095/the-layton-jacket-jacket-unknown/ [Accessed 2 Apr. 2017].
Figure 8 Collections.vam.ac.uk. (n.d) Margaret Layton (formerly Laton) – V&A Search the Collections. [Image] Available at: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O69443/margaret-layton-formerly-laton-oil-painting-gheeraerts-marcus-the/ [Accessed 2 Apr. 2017].