September & October 2021
Firle Place was delighted to host Stephanie Smart’s Regency Wardrobe Exhibition. Inspired by Autumn de Wilde’s recent feature film of Jane Austen’s EMMA, in which the house was Emma’s home of Hartfield.
This exquisite collection of 11 Regency costumes and a myriad of accompanying accessories, has been created by the hands of decorative paper textile artist Stephanie Smart, but all is not as it first appears… Astonishingly each of the items in the entire collection, from dresses and shoes, to fans, jackets and bonnets, have been entirely made from only paper and thread. The exhibition re-interprets the popular Regency art form of the paper cut silhouette and also responds to the history of Firle Place, with one piece uniquely inspired by one of the most famous parts of our historic collection.
The exhibition was displayed throughout the house, using the historic room settings, (many still featuring their confection of Regency colours from the film of EMMA), as the perfect period backdrop for the costumes. The exhibition culminated in a beautiful ball dress in-situ on a Regency style chalked floor – an ephemeral art almost lost to time. Frequently created for Regency balls, (initially for the safety of the dancers whose shoes could slip on the floors), chalking the floor brought a new transient dimension to the ballroom decorations, which would turn to dust over the course of the evening.
The Regency Wardrobe
Stephanie Smart started her unique fashion house and fine art studio, The House of Embroidered Paper, in 2017. Each garment she produces is a work of paper textiles employing paper craft techniques and embroidery and inspired by period and place. The ambition behind every piece is that it be simultaneously visually beautiful, technically ambitious and conceptually interesting.
The exhibition, a beautiful representation of Regency style, was undoubtedly the highlight of the Firle year.
Some of items in the collection are still available for sale at Stephanie Smart Website