Domestic Affairs: Spotlight on FIDM Museum’s Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection

Consuelo Vanderbilt

It’s no secret that I am a fan of the FIDM Museum. Excellent collection and exhibitions, with free entry? Yes, please. I loved the museum long before I had the opportunity to work there (some of you may recall my disclaimer at the beginning of my first Domestic Affairs FIDM review). My undergraduate degree is in languages and linguistics and my master’s is in art history. This means that even while I was doing my master’s research and writing my thesis on dress history, I was self educating on the topic of fashion and textile history.

The FIDM Museum blog was one of my first tools for doing that. It was also a wonderful way to procrastinate on my actual papers during my master’s coursework — it was way more fun to actually go out and see what a Callot Soeurs, 1920s gown looked like than write a paper applying Walter Benjamin’s concept of “aura” to Julia Margaret Cameron’s photographs. But, I digress.

It is also, to a certain extent, through FIDM that I became less of a dress history snob, and came to appreciate more recent fashion history (even, you know, this season’s) instead of refusing to look at anything past about 1840. This meant that working on their first traveling exhibition, Modern Love, was even more fun because I knew these contemporary pieces already, and now I was getting to see them up close.

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But if I’m honest, it is still the period from about 1780 – 1840 that most fascinates me (though I do occasionally moonlight and teach classes on 1890 – 1938, because Art Deco). So it is probably not a surprise that I spend an inordinate amount of time when I’m at the museum looking at the current display of the Helen Larson Historic Collection. It is where I can swoon over eighteenth-century men’s waistcoats, and even see an actual hair arrow. I know I’m not alone, because the image below was taken from former Worn Through contributor, Ingrid Mida’s post for us on the FIDM Museum collection, and there is an entire category on the FIDM Museum blog dedicated to posts on pieces from this amazing collection.

FIDM Cotton exhibition

A Century of Cotton: Selections from the Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection, 1800-1900. FIDM Museum at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles. Loan courtesy of Jane Gincig & Pat Kalayjian. Photograph by Brian Sanderson. Copyright of FIDM

I really do not have words for how amazing this collection is, even having worked within sight of it. The Helen Larson Historic Fashion collection contains 1,400 pieces. Among them are objects worn by six queens, three empresses, ten princesses, and 21 haute couture gowns spanning 400 years of fashion history. My personal favorite is one on which museum curator, Kevin Jones, did a paper: a gown having belonged to Princess Charlotte of Wales (on the right below), George IV’s only legitimate child and heir, who died tragically during childbirth in 1817 (my favorite eras are the Regency and Romantic periods, I blame my mother’s introducing me to Jane Austen at an impressionable age).

Monarchy Lecture

Dress c. 1897 Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection

Dress c. 1897 Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection © FIDM Museum

But this is not the only piece that is name catching. The first Helen Larson Collection display I saw included one of Queen Victoria’s mourning gowns (above and below). It was astounding to realize I was mere inches from something worn by a woman who gave her name to an entire era of Western history. It also brought the woman startlingly to life. The evidence was there of eight pregnancies, and despite the two- to three-foot platform on which the garment was displayed, I was staring at what would have been her majesty’s shoulders. For some reason this clear evidence of Queen Victoria’s four-foot-seven-inch height (or lack thereof) made her more real than any history book ever could. It is one of the things that drew me to material culture, it brings the people of history to life.

Queen Victoria 1   Queen Victoria 3

It’s not merely British Royalty in the collection either. The image I opened this post with, which I repeat again below, belonged to none other than Consuelo Vanderbilt, and is remarkably similar to the gown she is wearing in the Boldini portrait included in the FIDM Museum blog post on the piece.

Consuelo Vanderbilt

Callot Soeurs Paris, France c. 1907 Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection © FIDM Museum

 

Consuelo Vanderbilt Boldini Copy

Consuelo Vanderbilt, Duchess of Marlborough, and Her Son, Lord Ivor Spencer-Churchill Giovanni Boldini 1906 Oil on canvas Metropolitan Museum of Art, acc. no. 47.71 Gift of Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan, 1946 www.metmuseum.org

My favorite of the couture gowns mentioned is the original iconic little black dress, made in about 1926 by Mademoiselle herself. Beaded (of course!), with a simple elegance of design that literally stopped me in my tracks (no photograph does it justice), the FIDM blog post on the piece admits that this was most definitely no Coco Chanel’s first little black dress (that was created in 1919), but it will now and forever be what I think of whenever anyone uses that phrase.

Coco Chanel c. 1926 Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection

Coco Chanel
c. 1926
Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection

Chanel detail

I’m featuring this collection this week for two reasons. First, while I unfortunately have to miss this year’s Annual Art of Television Costume Design exhibition, I am preparing for my early October trip to see (and then review) the current Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection display: Fleurs: Botanicals in Dress. As I have learned and worked more in the field of dress and textile history since graduating, I find myself drawn to the details: the hair arrow above, the delicate, intricate embroidery of the gown below (also, Romantic era, so double yes!). So I am very excited for this exhibition but have two months to wait before I can go down and see it. So, I am sating myself with other Larson Collection pieces in the meantime.

Day Dress British 1820s Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection

Day Dress
British
1820s
Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection

The second reason I am posting is because it is what I can do to help raise awareness within our community about this amazing collection, because it is in danger of being broken up and lost. The museum’s deadline for raising the funds to purchase the entire collection is fast approaching. For those interested in contributing, feel free to check out the #4for400 campaign  on the FIDM Museum blog, and if you can, please spread the word. And be sure to check back in October for my review of the latest Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection display!

Have any of you been to the FIDM Museum and seen the Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection? What are your favorite pieces? Are there any collections in your local area that you love and feel should get more attention? Please share your thoughts below, or email me details so I can include them in a future column!

All images — except those taken by me while reviewing exhibitions — and all objects depicted courtesy and copyright of the FIDM Museum.

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Domestic Affairs: Fashion Victims, Wedding Dresses, and Men in Heels

So it’s that time of my year when budgets are too low to travel to far off exhibitions and I don’t have the energy anyway, since I’m prepping for the classes I’ll be teaching for the Fall semester — and by prepping I mean enjoying pool time while it lasts. But I am getting some wonderful tips about exhibitions to plan my pre-teaching and other Fall trips around through both comments and emails from many of you!

One that I hope to get to for fun (and to review) in August is I Did — Wedding Finery Past: The Affirmations of Past Generations at the Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles in Berkeley, California. One of our readers told me about this one and as I am always up for a trip to Lacis, I clearly need to do a review while I’m at it.

I was also reminded of two exhibitions at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto that I mentioned a few weeks ago: Standing Tall: The Curious History of Men in Heels and, my personal favorite, Fashion Victims: The Pleasures and Perils of Dress in the 19th Century. Former Worn Through Contributor, Ingrid reminded me of these two exhibitions by email, and mentioned that she wrote about Fashion Victims for the Costume Society of America journal, Dress. And while a trip to Lacis is possible, Toronto is a bit of a stretch, so that article and the video below will have to suffice for now!

What exhibitions do you wish you could see? What exhibitions are you excited for this Fall? Feel free to share them in the comments below or to email me the details so I can include them in a future post!

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Domestic Affairs: More Summer Exhibitions!

African Adornment

I remember reading an article recently about the increase in popularity of fashion and textile exhibitions. Considering I did an entire column on upcoming Summer exhibitions a month ago, and still didn’t cover everything, I would definitely say that’s true!

In Los Angeles, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), African Textiles and Adornment: Selections from the Marcel and Zaira Mis Collectionhas been open since April 5, and will be on view until October 12. Featuring 35 textiles and headdresses, this exhibition explores the concept in many African cultures of the body as the “seat of intelligence, spirit, and identity.” I very much hope to get down to LA to see and review this exhibition before it closes.

Another exhibition I hope to see is opening this week at the FIDM Museum. Inspired Eye: The Donald and Joan Damask Design Collection at the FIDM Museumwill be on display from June 12 until December 19 at the downtown Los Angeles campus. This exhibition is a showcase of a new donation to the museum by Donald and Joan Damask of historic avant-garde fashion and world dress, limited edition art books, and several historic fashion photographs by photographers such as Horst P. Horst, Cecil Beaton, Erté and Willy Maywald.

Also on display at the downtown FIDM campus is Opulent Art: 18th-Century Dress from the Helen Larsen Historic Collectionwhich I reviewed here a few months ago. This latter exhibition is particularly important because the FIDM Museum is on a deadline to raise the funds to acquire the entire Helen Larsen Collection in an attempt to keep this stunning collection together. Since the FIDM Museum is open free to the public, it is difficult to overstate how important it is that they acquire it. For more information you can visit their blog and read their “Fundraising Friday” posts. On display at the FIDM Orange County campus, by appointment, is an entire exhibition on millinery! A Century of Millinery Style: Hats from the Helen Larsen Historic Collection has been up since March 9 and will be on display until August 14. The exhibition features hats, bonnets, toques, and a general overview of millinery fashions during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Up in Seattle, at the Seattle Art Museum their exhibition, Disguise: Masks and Global African Artopens June 18 and explores how masks and masquerades answer the question, “[w]hen our experiences become difficult or curious, how do we confront what can’t be explained?”

In Texas, at the Dallas Museum of Art, Inca: Conquests of the Andes has 120 objects, including several Incan textiles, exploring the effect of imperial expansion on the arts of the Andes before the Spanish conquests. The exhibition opened May 15 and will be up until November 15.

At the Phoenix Art Museum, in Phoenix, AZ, Pattern Play: The Contemporary Designs of Jacqueline Groag has been open since April 4 and will be on display all Summer until August 9. The exhibition explores the desire for color and playfulness in fashion in Britain in the years following World War II through the work of the Czech-born designer, Jacqueline Groag. Featuring works on paper alongside the actual garments depicted, this looks like a wonderful exploration of fashion design immediately post-war but just before the launch of the New Look.

Also in the Southwest, at the Albuquerque Museum, Killer Heels: The Art of the High Heeled Shoe is entering its last months on display. Closing August 9, the exhibition features loans from the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto among others, the exhibition was organized by the Brooklyn Museum of Costume and explores the history of elevated shoes from the 16th-century chopines worn by Venetian courtesans to the modern stilettos or even heel-less shoes favored by Victoria Beckham and Daphne Guinness. The exhibition even explores the pointy boot craze sweeping Mexico and the Southwest, and features several Southwestern designers!

On the topic of shoes, at the Bata Shoe Museum, they have just opened Standing Tall: The Curious History of Men in Heels. The stated purpose of this exhibition is to “challenge preconceived notions about who wears heels and why.” Probably of no surprise to Worn Through readers, this exhibition explores the development of high heels as a shoe for elite men and heeled footwear for men through the history of fashion and will be on display until June 2016. Also on display at Bata, Beauty, Identity & Pride: Native North American Footwearis on display until January 2016. Drawing on the Bata Museum’s extensive collection — one of the largest in the world — this exhibition explores the regional designs and craftsmanship found in footwear produced by multiple Native American peoples of North America from several different regions of the continent. It features designs from the 18th century through to the 20th century.

At the Hillwood Estate Museum in Washington, DC, their exhibition, Ingenue to Icon: 70 Years of Fashion from the Collection of Marjorie Merriweather Postopened this past weekend and will be on display until December 31st. Billed as the “first exhibition at Hillwood to present Marjorie Post’s full range of style,” the exhibition charts Marjorie Post’s style evolution and is a wonderful catalogue of her lifelong dedication to fashion. This is one of those exhibitions where I wish the Star Trek teleporter was a real thing so I could go without the jet lag.

Last but not least, in New York, there are a couple exhibitions outside of the Met‘s China: Through the Looking Glass on display. At the Museum at FIT, Global Fashion Capitals just opened and is already receiving extensive praise from places like New York Magazine. The exhibition features pieces from the “emerging” fashion capitals of the world such as Tokyo, Stockholm, Mexico City, Sao Paolo, Mumbai and Istanbul, and through these pieces explores how globalization has given rise to these new fashion cities.

Also in New York at the Morris-Jumel Mansion, Yinka Shonibare MBE: Colonial Arrangementsis on display until August 31. Shonibare is a textile-based artist and this exhibition was designed exclusively for the mansion and to fit with its 18th- and 19th-century interiors.

In Asotria, New York, the Museum of the Moving Image has announced an extension of its Mad Men Costume Exhibition until September 6. With the show’s finale having garnered rave reviews, the exhibition has been very popular.

Are there any exhibitions or events happening in your area that you feel Worn Through readers should know about? Have you been to any of the exhibitions mentioned here? What did you think? Please feel free to share your thoughts and impressions, or any information about other exhibitions in the comments below. Or feel free to email me the details and I will be sure to feature the event in my next column!

Opening Image Caption: Tunic, Mask, and Headdress, Tunic: Indigo-dyed cotton weave; Headdress: fiber, palm stems and glass beads, Mask: Cotton and glass beads, Marcel & Zaira Mis Collection. © LACMA

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Domestic Affairs: Here Comes Summer (Exhibitions)!

Fashioning the Body

With the Met Ball having kicked off last week that can only mean one thing: it’s time to start planning your summer exhibition visits!

One exhibition that has been getting a lot of press in the lead up to its opening (no not the Met!) is Richmond, Virginia’s Classical Allure: Richmond Style at The Valentine Museum. This is the inaugural exhibition for Kristen Stewart, formerly of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, who is the new  Nathalie L. Klaus Curator of Costume & Textiles at the museum, and it has involved everything from conservation of a coronation robe to Stewart’s exploration of the museum’s 40,000-object strong collection. From what the reviews show, it is definitely worth a visit in the area. Though knowing Kristen and her work, that is absolutely to be expected. The exhibition opened May 3 and will be up until January 31, 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Under the London Fashion Umbrella: Video Post — Savage Beauty

Emma is still away, so for this week’s post I will share a video from the V&A’s Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition which opened in March. The video offers and inside view of the exhibition and features interviews with Claire Wilcox, Katy England, and Shaun Leane.

Have any of you seen Savage Beauty, either in London or New York? What did you think? Have any of you been lucky enough to see both versions of the exhibition? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Guest Post: Review of the 14th Annual Richard Martin Visual Culture Symposium

Today Worn Through would like to present a guest post from Hannah Schiff, a current Master’s candidate in New York University’s Costume Studies program. Her research primarily focuses on the strange and unusual, centering on curiosities and outliers throughout history.

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In addition to my passion for antique and vintage dress and textiles, I was drawn to Costume Studies in large part due to its interdisciplinary nature. A quintessentially human phenomenon, dress is linked to virtually all aspects of life, from fine art to politics, anthropology to economics. Fashion may often be marginalized or trivialized, but one may argue that this is done, in many instances, as a response to the overwhelming power clothing and textiles have over us.

In attending The Fourteenth Annual Richard Martin Visual Culture Symposium, an event hosted by the Costume Studies program at New York University, I was pleased to see the interdisciplinary nature of this field on full display. The four M.A. candidates and guest speaker, Dr. Alison Matthews David, made it clear through their dynamic and varied presentations that the boundaries of this discipline are limitless.

The evening began with the presentation of Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present, by Dr. Alison Matthews David of the Ryerson School of Fashion. A rich and visually stimulating talk, Matthews David took the audience on a forensic journey through some of history’s darker moments in the conception of aesthetics. Her strong language (including references to “satanic mills” and “homicidal luxury”) acted as vibrant punctuation for a series of fascinating topics discussed, namely the intersection of disease and dress, toxic processes and dyes used, and fashion accidents.

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Matthews David referenced this charmingly grim turn of the century poster representing the transformation of rabbits into hats (the source, as she explained, for the perennial favorite magic trick), in her discussion on the use of mercury in constructing hats.

Specific examples explored included the use of mercury in millinery, the 1778 development of an emerald green pigment created with arsenic, and the tragic death of a prima ballerina in 1862 after her tutu caught flame. Matthews David’s use of quotes from primary sources, and her deep exploration into the scientific, psychological, and sociological causes behind these varied fashion traumas made for an engaging talk. Her forthcoming book on the subject promises to be just as inspired as her presentation, and while waiting for its release I would encourage all who are able to see her work on display at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto.

The first M.A. candidate to present was Felicity Pitt with her talk entitled Bare-Cheeked Bicycling: Trick Cyclists and the Eroticism of Female Bicycle Riders, 1885-1900. This cheeky presentation chronicled the impressive feats, both on wheels and in society, of female daredevils at the turn of the century. Pitt’s research primarily focuses on 25 cigarette cards advertising these female performers, which reside in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Female trick cyclists of the nineteenth century wore scandalous (for the day) garments, Pitt argues, both out of necessity for movement and as an attraction.

The talk, centering on voyeurism, objectification of the female body, adoption of masculine influences in female dress, and displays of curiosity and taboos, demonstrated how these performers also engaged in impressive social feats in order to balance out their subversive behavior. “The mere sight of a woman riding at this time is a trick,” states Pitt, underscoring the fact that the athletic skill of these revolutionary women was perhaps only a piece of the equation which brought them notoriety.

Following Pitt, Anna Burckhardt presented a strikingly original topic entitled Walking Weavers: Ethnicity, Gender, and Tradition in Contemporary Indigenous Columbia. As the title suggests, this research has a strong anthropological component, and is a refreshing contribution to a field dominated by the study of Western dress throughout history. Burckhardt spoke passionately about the gendering of weaving and themes of reviving tradition in spite of geographic and cultural displacement.

 

Mama Rosa, a member of the community at La Maria in Piendamó, Columbia, weaves a chumbe, a band of cloth essential to female cultural expression.

Mama Rosa, a member of the community at La Maria in Piendamó, Columbia, weaves a chumbe, a band of cloth essential to female cultural expression.

Specifically looking at the chumbe, a woven band of cloth, usually in bright colors, Burckhardt illustrated how this woman-woven textile is an umbilical chord which connects the woman’s hand to the land of her people. Burckhardt’s personal experiences conducting research in the reservations of Silvia and La Maria in Columbia lent further support to her discussion, and her visual aids, many of which were pictures she took during her time there, offered undoubtable proof of the agency and support system weaving provides for these indigenous women.

Continuing on the thread of autonomous women, Bruckhardt was followed by Stephanie Kramer presenting You Look Good in My Dress: Courtney Love, Grunge and the Role of Gender in Postmodern Subcultural Style. Of the topics presented, Kramer’s was perhaps most accessible to the audience, for while grunge may have emerged as a subculture, it rapidly gained media attention and made household names of musicians such as Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain. However, while much existing scholarship (and press) have traditionally focused on the male contributions to the grunge sound and aesthetic, Kramer shows the strong influence wielded by Love by placing her within the framework of theorist Simone de Beauvoir.

Kramer illustrates the significance of Courtney Love’s role in the grunge movement by placing her life within the theoretical framework established by Simone de Beauvoir.

Kramer illustrates the significance of Courtney Love’s role in the grunge movement by placing her life within the theoretical framework established by Simone de Beauvoir.

Tracing Love’s journey through the three phases of womanhood de Beauvoir outlined, Kramer provided compelling support for her assertion that Love subverted each of them. Above all, Kramer’s use of quotes from Love, such as “I am a woman. I depend on artifice as I have been taught,”  vastly legitimized the agency of a woman commonly ridiculed by the media rather than seen as an originator of a trend and a figure consciously in control of her image.

Rounding out the evening, Eric Zhang brought levity to the symposium with his presentation Just Landed Like Fresh Tilapia: Race, Gender, and Ambivalence in Asian American Drag Performance. Zhang, like Burckhardt, provided a much needed discussion about a minority rarely represented in fashion or academia. Tracing the construction of identity of several drag queens featured on various seasons of the television series, RuPaul’s Drag Race, as well as queens who have not participated in the show, Zhang looks critically at the ambivalence of gender and race in Asian American drag culture.

In both visual and rhetorical terms, many Asian American drag queens express the complexity of their cultural identities.

In both visual and rhetorical terms, many Asian American drag queens express the complexity of their cultural identities.

Assessing the “rhetoric and aesthetic of race,” Zhang locates these performers as falling “somewhere in between being Asian and American,” calling the audience’s attention to the tensions present between race, gender, and the presentation of the two. Although video clips from Drag Race elicited laughter from the audience, they also provided solid evidence supporting Zhang’s interpretation of the complex relationship between gender, race, and the development of a performer’s persona and personal ideologies.

As the vastly divergent presentations of The Fourteenth Annual Richard Martin Visual Culture Symposium illustrate, Costume Studies is a discipline with endless possibilities for research. Trauma induced by fashion, female trick cyclists at the end of the nineteenth century, the links between tradition, textiles, and cultural identity in Columbia, the subversion of gender norms and theory by a female grunge music and style pioneer, and the search for identity among Asian American drag performers may all be seemingly disparate subjects. At their heart, however, they are tied together with intersecting themes of gender, race, identity, and the impact of dress and textiles, and have been masterfully woven together by the five scholars to show the numerous impacts fashion has on human experience.

Opening Image Caption: Open until June 2016, The Bata Shoe museum in Toronto plays host to Fashion Victims: The Pleasures & Perils of Dress in the 19th Century.

Did you attend the symposium? What did you think? Have you attended other symposia with student speakers that you would like to share with Worn Through readers? Please feel free to share your thoughts and impressions in the comments below.

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Domestic Affairs: April Showers

Italian Style

April seems to be filled predominantly with exhibitions that are about to close — so this week’s column will be filled with a lot of “last chance to see” notifications. That being said, there are a couple of new exhibitions, and some upcoming events that I’m sure many of you won’t want to miss.

At the Museum at FIT, Yves Saint Laurent + Halston is closing on April 18, while Faking It closes on April 25. These are, by all accounts, incredible exhibitions so go see them while you can.

Also in New York, the french institute : alliance française‘s Fashion Talk for April is a conversation with Proenza Schouler taking place on April 15. Tickets are still available according to the website.

At the Kent State Museum, Inside Out: Revealing Clothing’s Hidden Secretshas been open for about a month and is getting rave reviews. This exhibition takes a somewhat radical approach to revealing the craftsmanship that goes into clothing construction, according to the website, “This exhibition showcases these secret inner-workings that are usually out of sight.” Definitely worth a visit if you can reach it. While there you can see their many concurrent exhibitions, as well as the retrospective Geoffrey Beene: American Ingenuity which opened in January.

In San Francisco, High Style — which I reviewed here two weeks ago — is still open at the Legion of Honor. And Oscar de la Renta: His Legendary World of Style is still open at the SCAD Museum in Savannah, Georgia.

In Los Angeles, African Textiles and Adornment: Selections from the Marcel and Zaira Mis Collectionjust opened this week at LACMA, and the 23rd Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design exhibition at the FIDM Museum will be closing on April 25.

In Portland, registration is still open for the Costume Society of America-Western Region event for the V&A’s Italian Style exhibition, which is up at the Portland Art Museum.

As always, if you have been to any of these exhibitions and want to share your thoughts, or if you have an event or exhibition you want to let Worn Through readers know about feel free to leave a comment below, or to email me the details!

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Domestic Affairs: March Exhibition and Event Line Up

Oscar-de-la-renta_Beyonce_gown

There are a number of exhibitions opening and closing this month in North America!

At the SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia, Oscar de la Renta: His Legendary World of Style has been up since February 9 and will be open until May 3, 2015.

The Chicago History Museum has launched a travelling exhibition, Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of the Ebony Fashion Fair, which will have several stops. This month it is at the Milwaukee Art Museum until May 3, before moving on to the Minnesota History Center on May 22. Click on the exhibition link above to see all the places this fascinating exhibition will be.

In New York, at The Jewish Museum, Helena Rubenstein: Beauty is Power is closing on March 22. And at The Museum at FIT, three exhibitions are up until April. Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the 70s closes April 18, while Lauren Bacall: The Look is closing April 8, and Faking It: Originals, Copies, and Counterfeits is closing April 25.

In Toronto, the Bata Shoe Museum‘s Fashion Victims: The Pleasure and Perils of Dress in the 19th Centuryis still up and very popular, I hear. If you can’t make it immediately, don’t fret, the exhibition will be up until June 30, 2016.

In California, High Style: The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection is opening this Saturday, March 14, at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. While at the FIDM Museum in Los Angeles, the 23rd Annual Art of Motion Picture Designexhibition is up until April 25, and Opulent Art: 18th-Century Dress from the Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collectionis on display until July 4.

Last but not least, Italian Style: Fashion Since 1945 has arrived at the Portland Art Museum and will be open until May 3. The Western Region of the Costume Society of America will be having an event on April 25. For more information about the event and to register, please check out the event page.

Opening image: Oscar de la Renta’s dress for Beyoncé from the SCAD Art Museum web page for the exhibition.

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Conference Review: Fashion, Dress and Society in Europe during World War One

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Last month I was lucky enough to attend the Fashion, Dress and Society in Europe during World War One conference, co-hosted by Dominique Veillon, Lou Taylor, Adelheid Rasche and Patrick Fridenson, and held at l’Institut Français de la Mode in Paris on December 12th and 13th, 2014.

A packed program featuring 60 speakers, the conference brought together academics, curators, journalists and independent researchers from across Europe and North America. Dominique Veillon, director of research at l’Institut d’Histoire du Temps Présent, opened the conference on Friday with an overview of the massive social, political and cultural upheaval which took place during the four years of World War One. The rest of the morning’s speakers included Mary Lynn Stewart on marketing haute couture in America, Catherine Join-Dieterle on the fashion magazine l’Art et la Mode, Adelheid Rasche on fashion images in Paris, Berlin and Vienna, Amy de la Haye on British Women’s Land Army uniforms, Alexandra Palmer on war and fashion in Canada, and Lourdes Font on American buyers, designer and journalists in Paris. I especially enjoyed Rasche’s presentation on her exhibition ‘Wardrobes in Wartime 1914-1918,’ which used graphic works from the Lipperheid Costume Library at the National Museum in Berlin.

In the afternoon, attendees heard from Victoria Rovine on French fashion and colonial influence, Margaret Vining and Barton C. Hacker on American female military uniforms, Guillaume de Syon on French aviation uniforms, Patricia Tilburg on the patriotic cockade-making French garment workers, and Marguerite Coppens on French and Belgian lacemaking. Lou Taylor from the University of Brighton concluded the first day of the conference with a paper discussing British nurses’ uniforms and their appropriation by upper-class women volunteers, raising issues of class tension, control and authority through the use of clothing.

On the second day, papers were grouped by subject and presented simultaneously in three different rooms. I had been deliberating my choices since the Eurostar train ride over on Thursday and was now faced with a few difficult decisions. For the morning’s first session, I chose the ‘Images of War’ panel of speakers, featuring Muriel Berthou-Cresty on Adolf de Meyer’s photography for Vogue, Cally Blackman on fashion in the autochromes of Albert Kahn’s Archives de la Planète, Änne Söll on Viennese men’s fashion magazine Die Herrenwelt, and Enrica Morini on Italian fashion magazine Margherita. Four presentations accompanied by beautiful, vivid imagery, I was particularly struck by Blackman’s study of autochromes, early colour photographs which have been under-used by fashion historians to date.

‘Haute Couture & Couturiers’ was the theme of the second session I chose, with papers presented by Ana Balda on haute couture consumption in Spain, Emmanuelle Polle and Johanna Zanon on the early years of Jean Patou, Sophie Kurkdjian on the wartime fashion publications of Lucien Vogel, and Katy Conover on haute couture in England. The highlight from this session for me was Polle and Zanon’s presentation, as I am thoroughly enjoying my copy of Polle’s recent book on Patou and could not help but envy the author’s unprecedented access to the Patou family archives.

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In the afternoon, I must confess that I skipped out on the third session to visit the Sonia Delaunay: Les Couleurs de l’Abstraction exhibition at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Although I would have liked to attend one of the three sessions (‘War in the Archives,’ ‘Women & Identity,’ ‘Women during the War’), the exhibition certainly did not disappoint – stay tuned for Hayley-Jane’s review of the exhibition for Worn Through in the coming weeks.

Returning for the final session of the conference, I just barely managed to get a seat for the ‘Production & Consumption’ session upstairs in a smaller classroom. Papers presented by Suzanne Rowland on ready-made blouses in Britain, Marta Kargol on dress production and homemade clothing in the Netherlands, Marie McLoughlin on the evolution of the trench coat, and Laura Casal-Valls on fashion production and consumption in Barcelona provided an excellent conclusion to the conference, albeit with a slightly dramatic trench coat controversy. Final comments by Lou Taylor and conference organizers Maude Bass-Krueger and Sophie Kurkdjian, along with an excellent bistro dinner that evening, rounded out a weekend very well spent in Paris.

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Overall, Fashion, Dress and Society in Europe during World War One brought together a very interesting and diverse group of presenters. My only suggestion for improvement would have been the addition of simultaneous translation, as nearly half of the papers were delivered in French but not all attendees were French speakers. However, many of the presenters were prepared with translated copies of their papers to distribute or bilingual presentation slides, and all were willing to answer questions following their talks in either language.

Image Credits: http://histoiredemode.hypotheses.org/1498 (first image, second and third author’s own)

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Domestic Affairs: A New Year of Fashion Exhibitions!

Hollywood Costume

Museums, universities, and the Costume Society of America are ringing in the new year with new events, and exhibitions new and old.

The Costume Society’s Western Region has just opened registration for its first program of the year: a guided tour of Hollywood Costume led by CSA-WR-member Dr. Deborah Nadoolman-Landis. The event will take place at the Academy of Motion Pictures museum on February 7, 2015. Registration is open until February 2. For more information and to register follow this link.

Also in Los Angeles, the FIDM Museum is preparing to open the 23rd Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design exhibition. Open from February 10 through April 25, 2015 and the main FIDM campus, I understand they have costumes from Maleficent among many others.

At the Phoenix Art Museum, well-known fashion and textile scholar Dr. Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell will be giving a lecture today, January 14th, on her new book, Fashion Victims: Dress at the Court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. The lecture begins at 12:30 and will be preceded by a luncheon at 11:30. While there you should see the museum’s current fashion exhibition: Fashioned in America which opened in October and is up until March 15.

In New York, the Bard Graduate Center has announced that they will be featuring Fashioning the Body: An Intimate History of the Silhouette, opening April 3 and up until July 26. At the Museum at FIT, their latest exhibition, Faking It: Originals, Copies, and Counterfeits is on display until April 25.

At Kent State, Geoffrey Beene: American Ingenuity will open on January 29 and be up until August 30. While there you can also check out American Jewelry Design Council: Variations on a Theme: 25 Years of Design, The Great War: Women and Fashion in a World at War (which I previously did a virtual review of here), Entangled: Fiber to Felt to Fashion (entering its last weeks), and Fashion Timeline.

I am most grateful to reader, Leesa, in Toronto for telling me about Politics of Fashion/Fashion of Politics at the Design Exchange museum, which will be closing on January 25.

Are there any events or exhibitions you would like to promote here on Worn Through? Have you been to any of these exhibitions or events? What did you think? Feel free to share your thoughts or event and exhibit recommendations in the comments below. Or to email me the information.

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