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Claire Wilcox has worked as a curator in fashion at the Victoria & Albert Museum for most of her working life. Down cool, dark corridors and in quiet store rooms, she and her colleagues care for, catalogue and conserve clothes centuries old, the inscrutable remnants of lives long lost to history; the commonplace or remarkable things that survive the bodies they once encircled or adorned. In ‘Patch Work’, Wilcox deftly stitches together her dedicated study of fashion with the story of her own life lived in and through clothes. From her mother’s black wedding suit to the swirling patterns of her own silk kimono, her memoir unfolds in luminous prose the spellbinding power of the things we wear.
‘I am overwhelmed by this book. It is an absolute masterpiece. A book of such beauty and profundity, of such poetry in its emotion and observation … I found my sense of life transformed by her writing as I often find it transformed after the exhibition of a great artist’ LAURA CUMMINGClaire Wilcox has been a curator of fashion at the Victoria and Albert Museum for most of her working life. In Patch Work, she steps into the archive of memory, deftly stitching together her dedicated study of fashion with the story of her own life lived in and through clothes. From her mother’s black wedding suit to the swirling patterns of her own silk kimono, her memoir unfolds in spare, luminous prose the spellbinding power of the things we wear. In a series of intimate and compelling close-ups, Wilcox tugs on the threads that make up the fabric of our lives: a cardigan worn by a child, a mother’s button box, the draping of a curtain, a pair of cycling shorts, a roll of lace, a pin hidden in a seam. Through the eye of a curator, we see how the stories and the secrets of clothes measure out the passage of time, our gains and losses, and the way we use them to unravel and write our histories.
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