On our first full day of London, we started off at the Victoria & Albert Museum. It is now one of my favorite stops in London. For many years, I ignored it since I didn’t find it as compelling as the British Museum or National Gallery or something. Either their rebrand did the trick or I got older and realized that design is fascinated (or a combination of the two).
There’s always marvelous things to see at the V&A. They had a special exhibition on underwear that we decided to check out. Yes, underwear. It was underwear over the ages, briefly touching on lingerie. So less kinky than you might have thought. But it was super fascinating. I learned that maternity corsets were a thing, which is supremely horrifying. I also learned that there was a period known as the “bra wars” between rival companies Wonderbra and Ultrabra competed in the 20th century. I also learned that men’s shirts were considered underwear (like in the 18th century) because it was clothing next to their body. Things have changed!
The second floor of the exhibition had pieces from fashion designers, which was pretty cool. They covered themes like lingerie as outerwear, leisurewear etc. It was cool to see some of the pieces from recent Bond films.
We continued our wandering around the museum and found some other amazing artifacts like this saucer and cup with hands by Peter Ting in the China section. I love how they intersperse older objects with new modern pieces. I did find a child’s radio and cassette tape box that I owned as a child in the Japan section, which was a bit sobering!
After a brief stop off at the Albert Memorial for my husband, we decided to go back to our secret tea shop in Soho: Soho’s Secret Tea shop. We had gone the prior year and loved it. You have to enter a pub and ask for the tea shop upstairs. You go up a staircase behind the bar into a single tea room with 1940s/1950s music playing. Each table is laid out with a different cup and saucer. They have a nice tea selection and homemade cakes. Highly recommend it both for the fun of the secrecy and the tea!
Then we decided to go shoe shopping on Carnaby street and Regent’s street. As we turned the corner from the secret tea shop, we made an amazing discovery: a gallery with official Harry Potter graphic art. This four story shop had designs from the 7 HP movies and Fantastic Beasts. The top floor had the covers of Hogwarts textbooks, another room had wanted posters, another was filled with labels from products from Weasley’s joke shop, the Quibbler front covers etc. It was beautifully decorated throughout the building. It was super thrilling to be able to check this out!
After we accomplished our missions to find shoes in London, we decided to take a quick turn around the National Portrait Gallery. My husband had never been! So we spent most of the time in the Tudor and earlier section looking at the portraits of Richard III and Henry VIII and various wives. One of the portraits of Edward VI was a cool optical illusion!We went a bit later to see portraits of Admiral Nelson, Laurence Sterne. Sadly, we didn’t have more time there before we had to rush home for dinner!
A good day!