Category Archives: Journal

Fashion Journal – Federal Fashions at Ash Lawn-Highlands

I want to show you a little of the lovely display that is still showing at Ash Lawn Highlands in Charlottesville, Virginia through the end of October. Much of what is in the exhibit is from the collection of Mary Doering, and they did just a beautiful job of the display.

This era is so far removed from my own collecting that I always learn so much when seeing this type of display. And I just can’t help but be reminded of Miss Elizabeth Bennet, and by association, Mr. Darcy. That’s always a good thing!

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Fashion Journal – The Art of Affluence, Mint Museum

As expected, this exhibit did not disappoint. And I wasn’t the only one there who was loving it. My favorite quote? “I’m in Heaven!” That from a ten-year-old mini-fashionista!

The clothing was about half couture, half high-end ready to wear. Much of it had been made in the past 5 or so years, but the vintage presented included some real gems. The star of the show was an over the top Philip Hulitar ball gown which featured everything from fur sleevelets, to velvet fabric to crystal teardrops to metallic bits. I loved that they featured a lesser known name along with all the Chanel, Gucci and Versace.

My personal favorite was a surprise to me – a Ralph Rucci blouse. Yes, a not-so-simple blouse just stole the show. But what a blouse, It was fashioned from silk georgette in creme and black, with the neck being fashioned solely from pintucks. The georgette was edged in French lace which was attached by little embroidered rice-shaped things. You can see my feeble attempt to draw it above.

This just fueled my desire to see more from Mr. Rucci, so I was delighted to learn that Claire Shaeffer visted his workrooms and has written about it in the current issue of Threads magazine. Don’t miss the Rucci techniques slideshow on the Threads site.

A vintage-loving friend from the West Coast commented that she’d never even heard of the Mint, and I guess that is not surprising, as it is a small private art museum in a medium sized Southern city.  But their collection is something else.  There are over 27,000 items, including not just costumes but also pre-Columbian art, American art and decorative objects, Spanish Colonial art and comtempoary art and photography.

About twelve years ago the Mint had a program on pre-Columbian art for fifth graders.  The art and Spanish teachers at my school talked us into taking our classes on the 3 hour bus trip to Charlotte so we could participate.  After arriving, we got settled into the program, with the classes divided into groups, all doing different activities.

One of the activities was to just wander though part of the museum that was not on the tour.  I guess the educational staff at the museum did not think the entire museum would keep the attention of 11 year olds.  The group I had was pleasantly and mindlessly following me…until we came to a room filled with shoes.  The room was lined with shelves filled with shoes starting with centuries old ones leading up to the present day.  The kids were captivated, and that day I learned the true value and power of clothing.  I had a hard time getting them to leave and go to the next activity.

When we got ready to board the busses for home, we were missing a few kids, and sure enough, there they were in the shoe room.  It was all they talked of for days.

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Fashion Journal – Marietta Museum of History

I was in the Atlanta area last week and had time to visit a museum.  There are several good choices, including the High Museum of Art and the Atlanta History Center, but I knew I’d have more time if I chose a smaller one out of town.  I’d been meaning to go to the Marietta History Museum for some time, but usually my visits to Marietta are rushed, so now was the perfect opportunity. The museum is housed in the Kennesaw House, which wasn’t a house at all, but a hotel, dating from 1845 when it was built as a cotton warehouse.

I’m going to say outright, as much as I hate to, that I’m often disappointed in small municipal museums.  Most of the ones I’ve visited (quite a few) are a hodge-podge of old stuff, poor arranged, poorly displayed and poorly maintained.  Several years ago I went to one where they had Victorian  and 1920s clothing displayed on wire hangers!

But, I’m happy to say, this is not the case in Marietta.  This museum is a little gem, with the displays all having a relavance to Marietta’s history.  The displays were nicely arranged and well explained.  I missed the wedding dress display they had up for some time, but one corner was devoted to the “Fashion of the Month”.  How cool is that?  This month’s display was from the estate of a well-known Marietta citizen.  Along with her dresses and hats from the 1950s-1970, there were also photos and the details of her life.

As in most Southern museums, there was a large Civil War display.  That isn’t really accurate; there was a large military display, starting with the earliest wars Marietta played a part in, up though the present day.  I usually don’t get excited about military displays, with the same guns, uniforms, guns, gruesome photos, and oh.. did I mention guns?  This one had a small section devoted to women in the military, starting with WWI nurses, and ending with the items of a woman from Marietta who was a combat nurse in Vietnam.  Quite interesting!

There was a large aircraft plant in Marietta during WWII, and one of the women workers had donated her work overalls and other items from her employment as an airplane builder.  Rosie the Riviter!

A few drawings from my journal:

For those who are more interested in mythology than history, the “Gone with the Wind” Museum is right next door.  I’m not a fan of the movie, but they do have some iconic costumes from it.


Posted by Lulu:

I like your drawings! They’re cute!!! 

Tuesday, August 5th 2008 @ 1:01 PM

Posted by deb jordan:

I also have a Rosie type jumpsuit which has been patched many times. It was found in an old trunk. It does have a patch that I am trying to remember. Expedition 1872 w/ an eagle?? 

Tuesday, September 23rd 2008 @ 7:20 AM

Posted by Lizzie Bramlett:

What a great find! I’d absolutely LOVE to come across one. 

Tuesday, September 23rd 2008 @ 5:00 PM

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Fashion Journal – Asheville Art Museum: Groovy Garb

In 1967 one of the biggest fads around was the paper dress.  One of the largest makers of the paper dress was located in Asheville, Mars of Asheville.  This exhibit at the Asheville Art Museum showcases the work that was done there over a period of about three years.  This was, after all, a fad, and unfortunately for Mars, the fad didn’t last very long.


To learn more about paper dresses, you should get a copy of Jonathan Walford’s great little book, Ready to Tear.

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Fashion Journal – What We Wore in North Carolina, II

This exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History started in September, and I was lucky enough then to have a personal tour by the oh-so-knowledgable Louise Benner. The museum set up a second rotation in March, and Louise invited all the nearby members of the Costume Society of America to a little meeting at the museum. This second grouping was just as interesting as the first, with the emphasis being on the types of things people have worn through the past 200 years in North Carolina.

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Fashion Journal – What We Wore in North Carolina

If you are any where near Raleigh in the next year, you really do owe it to yourself to drop by the State Museum of History to see this well presented exhibit.  The items were carefully chosen and beautifully presented.  Another bonus – this museum is free, as opposed to similar exhibits I’ve seen in the past few years, where the entry fee was as high as $12.  Not that I mind paying, but it is really nice to be able to just walk in and see this one exhibit without worrying about “getting one’s money’s worth” and thus spending  the entire day seeing the whole museum.

Which wouldn’t be a bad idea, in the case of our state museum.  There is a great little exhibit on the top floor called “The Attic” which has, well, stuff you might find in an attic, including some very nice clothing and textiles. And if you are sports minded, there is the NC Sports Hall of Fame.  Lots of great older sports uniforms in that one.

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Fashion Journal – A Dance Through Time, Part II

Finally, here is my journal entry for the Ballet Russes Leon Bakst exhibit at the Wadsworth Atheneum.  The costumes  were for The Sleeping Princess (actually Sleeping Beauty, renamed by Diaghilev) and were inspired by Polish folk dress.  The dress on the left is hand painted silk with a black velvet bodice.  There is one of these costumes on display that has not been restored.  It’s really hard to imagine how the conservators managed such a task so beautifully.  The designs were matched and fused to a new silk background.

The second costume was reconstructed a little differently.  The designs were actually sewn to a new dress, made from the pattern of the shattered one.  The silver designs were applied directly to the new dress.

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