On a recent trip to Atlanta I made time for a visit to the Atlanta History Center. I specifically wished to see an exhibition of items from their costume collection. As a museum that focuses on the history of the North Georgia region, the clothes in the collection are mainly from people who are connected with the area. This new exhibition, Fashion in Good Taste has quite a few items that were made by designers and dressmakers from Atlanta.
The exhibition was held in Swan House, which is a mansion that is part of the museum complex. If the view of the rear of the house, seen above, looks familiar, that is because it was used as the presidential mansion in the last Hunger Games film. The house was built in 1928 for Edward and Emily Inman. It remained in their family until 1965. Today the house retains the original furnishings and interior.
The clothing was scattered around the house. I was surprised to read that this early 1960s dress was from Chanel. It was owned by Emily Bourne Grigsby, whose life has run the gamut from model at Rich’s Department Store to city planner to lawyer to artist.
One of the problems associated with displaying clothing in such large rooms is that they tend to get lost in the details. And while the clothes were not behind glass, the large windows let in so much light that it was hard to see the clothing details in most of the rooms.
This stunning dress was worn by Sarah Frances Grant Slaton in 1928 when she was presented at the Court of St. James. Slaton was First Lady of Georgia from 1911 through 1915.
This was, to me, the most interesting garment on display. It was designed and worn by Mary Crovatt Hambidge in a style that reflects the art concepts of dynamic symmetry. Hambidge took up weaving after a trip to Greece. A decade later she moved to the North Georgia mountains where she started an art center and weaving community.
The halter and skirt on the left belonged to author and Atlanta native Margaret Mitchell, who wrote Gone with the Wind. The set is dated to 1938, two years after Mitchell’s book was published.
Madaline Dickerson Johnson was a member of the flying Ninety-Nines, an organization for women pilots. This was her flying ensemble of jacket, jodhpurs, helmet and goggles.
This wrap dress was designed and made by Clyde Ingram, who had a dress and costume business in Atlanta. In spite of the name, Clyde was a woman.
Some garments simply defy categorization. This jumpsuit was designed by Spelman College alumna Ann Moore. After college Moore worked as a designer for many years in Detroit. When questioned about the jumpsuit, which dates to the 1950s, Moore said they she could not recall the motivation behind the piece.
These two ensembles are also by Ann Moore. The pants set was part of six matching pieces which Moore called “Ubiquisix.”
The blue dress and coat were made by her for her return to Atlanta on the occasion of Spelman’s 75th anniversary.
This World War II era work overall was worn by Mary Frances Long.
It was part of a grouping of WWII uniforms and work wear.
The exhibition ended with the 1960s. The pants suit is by French designer Andre Courreges, and was worn by Elizabeth Morgan. The pink print mini dress belonged to Dean Dubose, as part of her college wardrobe.
Visibility issues aside, it was a nice cross-section of Atlanta-related garments. I really think they need to have textile shows in the main museum where the amount of light can be regulated.