Yesterday I made the trip to Charlotte, to visit another of my favorite small museums, the Mint Museum. The Mint has a wonderful historic clothing collection, and they almost always have at least one special exhibit of interest to clothing collectors and textile fanatics. At the present time, there are actually five.
Chanel: Designs for the Modern Woman, showcases the work of Coco Chanel through the museum’s 50 or so works by the designer. The earliest example was a circa 1930 dress and matching coat, made from a striped jersey. The detail was just remarkable, and showed so well how the seemingly simple design was actually very carefully crafted to merely appear simple.
The exhibit was a combination of garments and accessories by Coco Chanel, the Yvonne Dudel-Jean Cazaubon-Philippe Guibourge team of the 1970s, and Karl Lagerfeld. The clothing is displayed in such a manner that one can get a good, close look, and the curators have made sure the the interesting aspects of each garment are in full view.
It is not a comprehensive view of the full history of the House of Chanel, mainly because the museum does not possess any garments older than the c. 1930 one I’ve shown. But it does give an excellent look at what the House of Chanel is about.
One of my favorites is the suit in the middle. It is from the 2003 – 2004 fall/winter couture collection. In the close-up you can see some of the details that make it so special. The fabric is actually two layers – a fine net and lace over the white wool. The pieces are actually joined with strips of netting. It really is just stunning.
To my great surprise, the Mint has a second major fashion exhibit, Fashionable Silhouettes. I say surprised because there is no mention of it on their website that I can find, so I was nearly knocked breathless to walk out of the Chanel room and into the 18th century:
This is a bit of a fashion timeline, starting with three (or was it four) robes a la Francaise. From there, the fashions progressed into the 19th century, and ended eventually in the 1920s. A few highlights:
Early 19th century white embroidered mull, possibly American. The shawl is c 1920, 1940 English silk.
The gown on the left is from the House of Worth. The lace is all appliqued onto black netting.
The stunning black and white stripe gown is from Jacques Doucet. The white is satin, and the black is velvet.
A Fortuny Delphos gown, with stenciled velvet Fortuny mantle.
Robe de style from American designer Sadie Nemser, early 1920s. Embroidery on silk and netting.
There is also a shoe exhibit – The Heights of Fashion: Platform Shoes Then and Now. Here is a very small sample:
1970s, “Inspirations by Myers”
Late 1940s, “Marquise Originals”
There are other costumes and textiles sprinkled throughout the museum, including another small shoe display. I highly recommend a visit to anyone who is in the Charlotte area. To me, the two and a half hour drive was well worth the time and effort.