“The Kent State University Museum: Celebrating 25 Years” Gallery Tour (Part 1)

my name is Jean drew Sydow I’m the
director of the Kent State University Museum and I’d like to take you through
the exhibition that celebrates 25 years of the Kent State University Museum with
250 years of fashion and 25 pieces I’m really standing in front of the oldest
pieces in the exhibition and I’ll move aside so that you can get a better view
of the wonderful very formal English Mantua that was restored by a senior
fashion design major this fabric for that dress was made about 1745 the dress
in its configuration when we got it in the museum looked like it was sort of
1770 remade for fancy dress so Christina Hill took it apart and we had 57 pieces
that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle and we were able to take it back to its
earliest configuration at least the earliest that we have fabric for and
that’s about 1750 the panier is the side hoops that keep the dress extended so
wide at the hip are about 56 inches across when you went through a door you
either went sideways or the doors were wide enough to accommodate you or if
you’re upon yeas were so contrived they could collapse so that you could go
through the door Hamlet is an interesting fabric it’s made out of silk
and wool and some kind of hair the the kind of hair varies but it is so densely
woven that it’s actually nearly waterproof and so the English gentleman
who lived in the countryside could ride through the brambles in their camlet
coats and brush them off and it wouldn’t damage them very much it was in
considerable opposition to the French fashion of silks and Velvets the English
gentleman could go from the country to the city in his camlet coat
next to the blue and silver dress is the first example of what we call a round
gown for almost a hundred years the fashion was for an open robe and
petticoat in other words an expansive skirt and then an over dress that was
opened down the middle and the middle filled in with a triangular piece called
a stomacher and you can see that in the in the blue and silver dress as well the
round gown was the first garment to close in the front in the 18th century
and of course without that split down the front
it was a round gown this particular dress is made of a very very sheer
cotton called mul usually mul was woven in India of very very fine threads and
then exported sometimes it was embroidered in India it’s very difficult
to know exactly where the textile was embroidered but they were embroidered to
the shape that would be cut and finished like this particular gown
we’re moving around the gallery in chronological order and the next gown
the white dress is from about 1829 it’s decorated with Ayrshire needlework which
is a combination of embroidery and drawn and pull thread work but the most
dramatic thing about this dress are its sleeves in contrast to the round gown
that you saw just moments ago which is so narrow and so slender and which
sought to replicate antique statuary this dress now is the beginning of the
Romantic movement in fashion and you have the widening of the sleeve and the
widening of the skirt that width at the Bethlehem is accented by not only by the
decoration but by the ruffles as well this is the largest extent of the
leg-of-mutton sleeve until you get to the 1890s when it reappears behind the
white dress is a bronze dress a kind of beige brown bronzy silk from the 1830s
that was a very popular color in the 1830s now remember up to this time
you’re only seeing colors with natural dyes meaning dyes extracted from
vegetable and animal matter the shawl was a very popular accessory it was
brought to England of course from the Far East from India from Kashmir and it
was worn in the 18th century but people really believed that it was popularized
by the Empress Josephine in France and that Napoleon brought some of those
shawls to her from some of his campaigns they were extremely expensive very
luxurious and of course they became quite a fashion the 1840s you’ll notice
suddenly the sleeve is long and slender the fullness of the skirt is at the is
at the waistline and the skirt begins to widen even more than it then it had in
the decades before and by the time you get to the 1850s which is the little
flounce dress on the right you can see how wide and
bell shaped these skirts have become it’s a very sheer cotton and it was worn
by a woman who lived in Mississippi I want you to appreciate all the layers
that go under these garments and think about a Mississippi summer next to the
skin you have a shift over the shift you have a corset over the course that you
have sometimes drawers and petticoats and many petticoats in order to keep
your skirt as full as possible in this case the dress requires under sleeves as
well and they only reach to above the elbow but nonetheless it’s another layer
all of the petticoats that were worn under the dresses in the 1840s and 50s
were pretty dangerous for a lot of women if a spark flew from the fireplace while
you were cooking and caught your petticoats on fire
you were in pretty serious shape in 1856 when the Thompson cage crinoline was
patented people began to realize what a relief it was to wear these concentric
hoops of Steel held together in a particular configuration by tapes and
that they then fastened around the waist so that instead of multiple petticoats
that were heavy because they had to be starched in order to stand out you had a
single petticoat sometimes with a light weight over skirt to hold out the
dresses here you see a dress from the 1860s and it’s supported by a caged
crinoline by the late 1860’s really by about 1865 when this dress was probably
worn the shape of the fashionable silhouette had changed it was no longer
the bell shape of the 1850s but it was more elliptical the fullness was pushed
from the front to the back and you can just begin to see the formation of a
bustle cage crinoline allowed this to happen very readily because you could
change the config raishin of Hoops by the placement of the
tapes that held them together about the 19th century there were very carefully
understood reasons for wearing certain kinds of garments at certain times
really it’s a long tradition of what’s appropriate to wear at court in the
presence of certain dignitaries what’s appropriate to wear at home and in fact
there are tongue-in-cheek cartoons about women changing clothes every hour of the
day in order to wear something that they consider to be appropriate so far in the
exhibition you’ve seen a very formal Mantua in the 18th century that would
have been worn for a very important occasion but not in the presence of
royalty because it didn’t have a trend you’ve seen dresses that would be
appropriate for the morning at home dresses that are appropriate for the
afternoon the dress from the 1860s is a ballgown and here you have two dresses
from the 1870s in the 1880s the bustle period the gray silk faille dress on the
left is a visiting dress there were elaborate rituals for calling during the
late Victorian era and you wanted to be very certain that you were dressed
appropriately now the dress is just fancy enough and because it has a train
it may in fact have been appropriate to wear at a reception as well the dress
next to it is definitely a ballgown because it has a low neck and very very
short sleeves generally the lower the neckline and the shorter the sleeves the
more formal the evening occasion the silver brocade hang on the on the white
satin is really wonderful and of course the front of the dress is covered with
silver bead fringe you can only imagine how it would wiggle and shake as she
walked in the 20 years between 1890 and 1910 considerable changes took place in
the feminine silhouette and of course in the corsa tree that created it in this
gallery view you see an evening dress from the middle of the
1890s about 1895 with the evening version of the leg-of-mutton sleeve the
robin’s egg blue dress decorated in silver in the middle is a dress from
about 1900 and this is a lovely coral velvet but the shape of this dress is an
s-curve and the corset forces the bosom into what’s called the powder pigeon or
the mono bosom and you sort of jut out in front and jut out behind look at the
figure on the far right of this gallery view look how narrow it is how straight
it is this was a return to the neoclassicism if you remember the round
gown that we saw the first seen in the gallery the round gown was the first of
the neo class periods and here you have at the beginning of the 20th century
fashion looking back a hundred years and straightening the silhouette once again
the pink and silver evening dress dates from about nineteen fifteen to eighteen
notice that for the first time you’re seeing the ladies ankles this is an
enormous change as well part of it was brought about by the fact
that women were beginning to work to need more mobility because of the
athletic things they did because of the changes in lifestyle after the Victorian
and Edwardian periods it also reflects some of the changes brought about by
World War one when women were working outside the home taking jobs that were
normally held by men and where they needed more mobility than previous
fashion had allowed this dress is by Lucille lady duff-gordon perhaps she’s
most notorious for forcing her husband off the Titanic and into a lifeboat he
was one of the few men that did not drowned next to the Lucille is a
marvelous dress by Coco Chanel this is so interesting because the long
fringes are attached to a piece of blue chiffon that simply wraps around the
body and forms the dress on top of a very plain silk undergarment a model of
this dress was worn by the actress Marion Morehouse and was pictured in
vogue in 1926 this is a gift from Helen Borowitz collection you

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