(For those of you that missed the actual installation of the Athens Cultural Center's exhibit on fashion of the 19th century, curated by Geoff. Please check out the online version below!)
Out of the Wardrobe, Trunk and Attic:
Curated, designed and installed by Geoff Howell.
In doing some research last year on the history of architecture in Athens, I found, amongst photos of old houses, some shots of people that lived in them as well- It struck me how formal and stylish they were. It was partly due to those photos that I thought it would be great to build a costume exhibit,
presenting the clothes people wore in the 19th century, the period during which most of Athens came to be, so that we could get a better sense of who the people were that lived here then. This supposes that how they dressed tells us something about who they were-and in this instance, I think it does: it is helpful to know what conventions people upheld, fashion-wise and otherwise as it informed every part of their lives. Advances in technology have always changed the way the people have presented themselves, as well as the outside and the inside of their homes- some things remained consistent throughout the 1800's: building the nicest house they could afford, and wearing the nicest clothes they could make, or have made-and doing both in the most stylish way.
This exhibit attempts to give a sense, through period photographs, antique clothing, and a few related artifacts, of how styles changed during those 100 years, how it influenced some 20th century fashion,
and also to be able to see garments up close from as long as 170 years ago-clothing that was all sewn by hand, often made of silk that would have been woven in France or England and imported to maybe even the old dry goods store we are in now.
Special thanks to the following people who have helped with this show: Michele Saunders and David Ludwig for donating their time in helping with the installation, Tim Albright for loaning many historic family photos, Howard Zar for loaning several very special items, and to the Coxsackie Antiques Center for the loan of some bust forms, engravings, and garments. Realistic mannequins courtesy of Rootstein Mannequins, New York and London.
This show is dedicated to my mother, Elizabeth Howell, 1920-2001, who was my first fashion icon.
|As you enter the space, the first wall to left is covered with a montage of actual antique photographs as well as copies of other dating from roughly 1840-1910 showing great examples of styles as they changed through the decades.|
Below are close-ups of local Athenians from period photographs:
|This silk brocade and silk velvet dress from the 1870's is shown in front of a mirror from the same period. This dress came from a local Athenian collection.|
|This wall contains an illustrated fashion time-line from 1800-1910 including original engravings and some period photographs. Also included are photographs of houses built in Athens throughout the 19th century.|
|In the above photograph is a hand-loomed wool and silk paisley shawl from 1830's. Below it is a brown and garnett plaid bodice from the 1850's and three other period silk dresses from slightly later on in the century.|
|This collection of capelets and bodices range from the 1880's to around 1910 and are all made of silk. Many of these include machine stitches.|
|Here's a simple black wool and cotton lace trimmed day dress.|
|his extravagrant pastel portrait in the large aesthetic movement frame was produced in the 1880's and is shown above an early 20th century carriage with a hand-embroidered wool felt Victorian baby blanket.|