Monday, November 2, 2015

MOHAI: Museum of History and Industry: Behind the Seams The 19th Century In Color

A shame this is such an ugly town. Yes, that is a float plane landing just to the left of our destination

(this is a link to a very long and throughly Seattle history of a very West coast sort of place)

MOHAI, in addition to being the dumpster  recipient of Seattle's historical artifacts, has long had a tradition of hosting some of the weirder touring exhibits.

It was my great good fortune see "Clutch It! The Purse and the Person" (a truly stunning exhibit of handbags) as well as the end of the tour of  Theatre de la Mode there.

photo: Maryhill Museum
1946 French fashion, on 700mm tall models

(fortunately it's still in WA state, at the Maryhill Museum of Art. Along with the effects of Marie of Roumania and Loie Fuller)

Last year I had more good fortune in seeing a few 'fashion lectures' about the history of importing/developing fashion in Seattle, presented by Clara Berg, who I believe was a new hire to conserve the textiles and clothing in the collection.

This year, these lectures include viewing more of the clothes, with an emphasis on their era and construction details, reasonably upclose and personal.

From the website:

Inspired by the garment viewings of past fashion lectures at MOHAI, Behind the Seams programs are a peek into MOHAI's collection and your chance to see treasures that are usually kept in storage! View garments in detail, from the silhouette to the underpinnings, and hear the stories that make them special. For the inaugural Behind the Seams, we'll be illuminating the 19th century by showcasing colorful garments from the 1850s-1890s. From vibrant silks to captivating cotton prints, discover an era that was much more vivid than black and white photos would have you believe! 

 This time I parked myself in the front row at the corner of the table.
Click on the photos to enlarge them

1860's: One hooped skirt, two bodices. Silk with self trim. And loads and loads of that trim.

1870s: the 'natural silouette' (no hoops, little bustle). 

The jacket does not go with the dress, and the plaids are not matched. One of the fun things about these presentations is that Ms Berg is very happy to hear what people have to add or observe about the clothes, because it's an old collection with little history on it. 

Consensus was: the jacket was made to use up the fabric, and at this point, it was just enough to use all the fabric, not try to get it to line up. And it's better matched in the front than the back.

Cotton lining, with a pinked cotton hem facing.

1890s skirt and jacket, woven silk, with a front wrap panel.

The brown panel is velvet, and would be glimpsed when the wrap opened midstride

Deep black cotton hem facing

The wrap opens on the left


House coat printed cotton silk. 1890s.

Those nonmatching prints are the smoother silk lining; its a rough cotton/silk exterior

It's a stunning print

And the peacock eye weave dress. It's a bodice and a skirt that are attached in places

Nearly 12 inches wide hem edging  of pleated and tied self trim

A metallic ring and (barely seen) acorn dangling off the back.

Oh sadly we have to go home

But a quick stop at the Virginia V steamboat, where the engine crew are old family friends.....the green wedge in the distance is at the foot of the hill I live on.

Yes, it's just hell being here.... 

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