Trying by means of the lens of trend, the most recent exhibit to open on the Schenectady County Historic Society juxtaposes historical past with up to date concepts.
In “Redesigning Vogue: Transgression & Identification in Girls’s Historic Gown,” clothes from SCHS’s sizable assortment are paired with trendy interpretations made by college students in SUNY Oneonta’s trend and textiles program.
“We’ve achieved trend displays previously and I simply wished to do one thing somewhat completely different and actually carry it into the twenty first century,” stated Susanna Fout, the collections and exhibitions supervisor. “It’s essential for us to attempt to relate historical past to the trendy viewer as a result of lots of people [think] ‘It’s not related to me immediately,’ however trend positively is. We reside in a society the place, for higher or for worse, we’re pressured to put on clothes day-after-day. Now we have to put on clothes in an effort to take part in society.”
It’s a sentiment that appears extra pertinent than ever this yr given the adjustments in masks mandates. The thought for the exhibit, and the partnership between SCHS and SUNY Oneonta, began effectively earlier than masks had been high of thoughts.
Fout deliberate to have college students come to the SCHS to see the historic clothes in individual, nevertheless, that wasn’t attainable due to the pandemic. As a substitute, she discovered methods to digitize the clothes, all of which had been donated by Schenectady County residents over time, and had college students choose which items they had been most impressed by. College students researched the historical past of their chosen garment and created a recent piece knowledgeable by the historic one.
The connection is probably most evident in Kaiya Harris’ tackle a Nineteen Twenties period flapper gown. The century-old garment hangs loosely on the gown kind, with intricate beadwork on the waist and hips in addition to beaded fringe on the sleeves. Harris’s gown is a extra form-fitting model, with an artwork deco black and gold sample with a beaded fringe alongside the hem.
“Whereas trend within the Nineteen Twenties was used to subvert conventional gender roles for girls, immediately evidently trend is turning into much less and fewer gendered,” wrote Harris in a press release.
Not too far-off is among the earliest clothes within the exhibit, a royal blue gown from 1860, with a full skirt and tailor-made bodice with capped sleeves. On show with it’s a two-piece gown from Alexandria Tyo, who took the total skirt aesthetic and shortened it. She additionally designed a lace-up corset for the highest, a garment that progressive girls shed within the nineteenth and Twentieth centuries however within the twenty first, many have reclaimed.
Additional alongside within the exhibit is a 1901 gown that’s harking back to the Gibson Woman period. Its gray material options lace and embroidery work alongside the bodice and the skirt. In a redesigned look, Alexa Rivera created a pair of black shorts and a pleated cropped high with a black fringe on the sleeves.
Past the clothes, the exhibit options early stitching machines, together with an 1830s period forged iron Howe stitching machine.
“Up till the Nineteen Twenties, most clothes was produced at house. There have been some [ready to wear garments] accessible however for essentially the most half, individuals had been making all the pieces at house,” Fout stated.
There are additionally historic curling irons, followers and different equipment, together with Twentieth-century girls’s magazines. These detailed the sweetness requirements of the day, which have lengthy since been subverted, as evidenced by the modern-day clothes within the exhibit.
Whereas there have been loads of challenges in pulling “Redesigning Vogue” collectively, together with a scarcity of elastic and different supplies, Fout is pleased with the way in which it turned out.
“I used to be very shocked not even by the clothes however [the students] had been very considerate in how they interpreted them and really considerate in what they wished to specific. I’m very pleased with the way in which it got here out,” Fout stated.
“Redesigning Vogue” will likely be up by means of Nov. 13 on the Schenectady County Historic Society. For information about upcoming occasions and extra data go to schenectadyhistorical.org.
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