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Archive for May, 2019

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While at the Costume Society of America symposium in Seattle last month, as part of the symposium we had the opportunity to view the exhibit, Seattle Style: Fashion/Function before it opened.

Exhibiting at the Museum of History and Industry, Seattle Style is a collection of what best reflects sartorial choices, past and present, in this Pacific Northwest city. One might expect to see a lot of outdoor gear and we did, but also included are evening gowns, ball gowns, summer dresses, hats, coats, beaded handbags and more.

I’d say, just like in San Francisco, Chicago, and New Orleans fashion is not a priority for current Seattle residents. But that was perhaps not the case in the past and the intent of this exhibit is to feature the crossover of style and practicality. Given the climate, there’s a lot of layering, wool, and protection from rain. The exhibit draws manly from the museum’s own clothing collection, which has increased with donations from some of the city’s socialites. Also included in the exhibit are pieces on loan from local designers.

Pictured below are some of my favorites of the exhibit:

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Tired of having to cover up a interesting outfit with a drab raincoat, Clear Coated founder Miriam Rigby designed a coat that would keep her dry and show off her creative outfits.

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Blue Morpho gown. Luly Yang is a Seattle couture designer known for her elegant and nature inspired motifs for evening wear. 

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I’m a sucker for a shirtwaist! This one was designed and manufactured by Foster-Hochberg for the 1962 Seattle Worlds Fair. Sold at the fair and in stores around the city, the fabric depicts the Space Needle and other highlights of the fair. LOVE. IT.

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Salish Pattern wool blanket by Eighth Generation. Seattle based Eighth Generation makes Native American inspired blankets, which can be worn as a cape. 

Seattle Style: Fashion/Function is on now through October 14, 2019 at Museum of History and Industry in Seattle, WA. If you’re there, check it out.

 

 

 

 

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Queen Victoria and Prince Albert with five of their eventual nine children. 

… the one outward sign from which people can and often do judge the inward state of mind of a person, and it’s of particular importance in persons of high rank … we do expect that you will never wear anything extravagant or slang because that would prove a wont of self-respect and be an offence against decency. 

Queen Victoria (1819-1901)

This quote is part of a letter written by Queen Victoria in 1851 to her son, Prince Edward, who would later become King Edward VII.

She uses the word – slang – which meant casual.

May 24th marks the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth. What might she think of today’s royal family? (And the name Archie for the latest addition?)

Fans of Victoria, the PBS television show, might be interested to know that there will be a season 4 and perhaps a season 5 but no one is sure beyond that. Another tidbit – the actors playing Victoria (Jenna Coleman) and Prince Albert (Tom Hughes) are dating in real life.

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Happy Mother’s Day from us to you.

Nothing has to be perfect for me to use it, wear it, enjoy it!

Cindy Marshall, retired antique jewelry dealer and my mother.

Although I didn’t always understand or agree with Mom’s philosophy there were times when it came in handy.

Once, when I was around five years old, early on a Saturday morning I was awake before everyone else and hanging around in the living room. I recall getting bored and looking around I spotted a bottle of liquid shoe polish sitting on the coffee table. Suddenly, artistic inspiration overcame me and I grabbed the bottle and swiped the brush of black goo back and forth on a small portion of a large Art Nouveau style poster hanging on the wall, thinking at first that no one would notice. Then I stood back to admire my abstract brush strokes … Oh no! It’s kind noticeable. I tried to wipe off the polish but it was already dry. Quickly, I put the bottle back on the table and ran out of the living room and down the hall to the kitchen, far away from the scene of the crime.

Lucky for me, Mom didn’t look at the poster that day. I don’t know when she might have noticed it, but she never said a word. No one did. Maybe I was right thinking no one would noticed or they thought it was always a part of the poster.

Many years later after I had grown up and the poster had survived a few moves, I was looking at it, again up on the wall, and asked Mom about the black stroke marks. “Did you know I did that?” I asked.

“Of course … well, I don’t think I realized right away but I figured it out.”

“Why didn’t you say anything? How come I didn’t get in trouble?”

Mom laughed. “It didn’t matter and I kind of liked your added artwork.”

I’ve come to appreciate imperfections – holes in a sweater, a crack in a tea cup, a crooked stitch on something hand-sewn, swipes of black shoe polish on a poster. The imperfections can make things more interesting. They certainly are a reflection of real life.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Thanks for the gift of imperfections.

 

 

 

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Designer Lida Aflatoony from University of Missouri, Columbia.

Part of the CSA Symposium was the Design Showcase where on display were unique fashions. These designs posed a problem, answered a question, or highlighted an historical period. One that I was drawn to was titled Tech and Craft Synergy.

Submitted by Lida Aflatoony and Jean L. Parsons from University of Missouri, Columbia the displayed jacket was made of white organza adorned with swatches of fabric decorated with floral motifs. Using traditional handicrafts such as embroidery, beading, and knitting the intent was to address the conflict between traditional hand craft and technology.  What was unexpected (to me) was that half of each design was done by hand and the other half by technologies like laser cutting and 3D printing.

 

 

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On each of these swatches, the left side was hand crafted and the right side was done by technology.

In their abstract Aflatoony and Parsons say: The design was created as an art piece that illustrates and recognizes the confluence of traditional handcrafts and current technology, with a transitional stage in the center. This concept aims to visually emphasize the transition from the handmade and craftsmanship to digital production. In addition, the aim was to suggest that craftsmanship as a precious heritage can fit hand in hand with emerging technologies. 

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Although there is nothing like something handmade, I like the idea of a crossover. And I wonder if as fewer and fewer people are learning traditional crafts, can technology play a role in preserving these crafts.

 

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IMG_20190429_170819383If you’ve got belt loops on a trouser, wear a belt. Otherwise, it looks like you forgot. The only exception: jeans. Wear a fresh white shirt with a pair of jeans and loafers or driving moccasins. You will feel like Robert Redford. 

Joseph Abboud, menswear fashion designer.

I would say the same for women – belt loops cry out for a belt! And yes, a crisp white shirt with jeans is a winner on everyone.

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Every year Costume Society of America hosts a symposium, where professionals gather to discuss historical and cultural dress.

Costume Society of America was founded in 1973. As a non-profit organization they seek to offer educational opportunities in historical dress. Their mission statement:

The Costume Society of America fosters an understanding of appearance and dress practices of people across the globe through research, education, preservation, and design. Our network of members studies the past, examines the present, and anticipates the future of clothing and fashion.

This year I attended the CSA symposium for the first time. Held in Seattle, Washington it was four packed days of paper presentations, professional development workshops, meetings, exhibitions, and lots of chances to meet new friends among over 250 like-minded people. Attendees included professors,  historians, costumers, and museum curators. I’m not sure, but I might have been the only fashion writer. Although there were plenty of academic writers.

This year’s theme was The Pacific Rim and Beyond: Diffusion and Diversity in Dress. The keynote speaker Akiko Fukai from the Kyoto Costume Institute opened the symposium with an enthusiastic speech on the influence of Kimono and Japanese dress on western fashion.

Presentations varied and covered topics from costuming Shakespeare to pattern creation, from prison attire to clothing terminology, from modern Muslim dress to 1790s menswear.

My favorite presentations happened to be grouped together on the final day of the symposium.

Union-Made: Fashioning America in the 20th Century. Denise Nicole Green, Ph.D. discussed a multi-media exhibition at Cornell University that chronicled the rise and fall of union-made clothing in America.  The exhibit included union-made clothing, photos, sewing machines, ephemera, and artifacts from the the university’s costume collection and union archives. What a rich and fascinating topic.

Sustainable Clothing – Nothing New: Women’s Magazines Encouraged Clothing Recycling During World War II presented by Nan Turner, professor at University of California, Davis. We could learn a thing or two from fashionable women of the war generation. With all resources going to the “war effort” clothing was rationed both in England and Europe. Recycle, up-cycle and “Make-do and Mend” were a way of life. Researching fashion magazines of the period and interviewing women in Britain who lived through the war, Ms. Turner considered how women went about refashioning their clothing.  This paper is part of a book Ms. Turner is currently working on. I look forward to reading that book!

Corporate Fashion Archives and the Growing Role of the Historian: Using PVH Archives as a Case Study presented by Becca Love, PVH Archives. Ms. Love has a very interesting job – she manages part of the archives for PVH, a fashion conglomerate which owns brands Calvin Klein, IZOD, Arrow, and Geoffrey Beene, among others. PVH Archives launched in 2014.  In this paper presentation Ms. Love discussed this new avenue in corporate fashion houses for fashion historians. As legacy brands begin to tout their history, archives have become important for inspiration, research, and PR cachet. Growing archives create a need for professionals to manage these archives. With limited and competitive options elsewhere for museum curators and fashion historians, corporate fashion houses are an exciting option. I really enjoyed learning about this new and growing career path.

All in all it was a week of full immersion in fashion academics.

There is more to report so I’ll be posting again on the CSA Annual Symposium in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

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