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Museum Exhibit: Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail

Woman’s Tennis Dress, circa 1885
Cotton plain weave, printed, with cotton-lace trim; center back length A 50 1/2 in. (128.27 cm); center back length B 28 1/2 in. (72.39 cm)

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is currently running a wonderful exhibit called Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, covering the years 1700-1915. The exhibit celebrates the museum’s groundbreaking acquisition of a major collection of European men’s, women’s, and children’s garments and accessories. The exhibition tells the story of fashion’s aesthetic and technical development from the Age of Enlightenment to World War I through its more than 100 garments. It examines sweeping changes in fashionable dress spanning a period of over two hundred years, and the displays depict the evolution in luxurious textiles, exacting tailoring techniques, and lush trims.

In addition to the photos above, the exhibit highlights include an eighteenth-century man’s vest intricately embroidered with powerful symbolic messages relevant to the French Revolution; an evening mantle with silk embroidery, glass beads, and ostrich feathers designed by French couturier Émile Pingat (active 1860-96); and spectacular three-piece suits and gowns worn at the royal courts of Europe.

The exhibit will be on display in Resnick Pavilion until March 27, 2011. If you live in the LA area or plan a visit, you won’t want to miss a side trip to the museum. If LA isn’t in your future, however, you can enjoy wonderful photos of the extraordinary garments online. Click the enlarge button on each photo to see the details. There’s also a hard-cover companion book ($55.00) if you would like to learn even more. You can even download patterns from some of the garments. One way or the other, you’ll want to spend some time exploring this exhibit.

If you’ve been lucky enough to attend the LACMA exhibit, please tell us about your visit.


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  1. ShaunM | | #1

    LOVED this exhibit! Really well displayed, with a minimum of fuss and distractions. Curation is very good. If you love clothes and clothing design, DO try to attend. Fabulous.

  2. User avater
    Nicksews | | #2

    I saw this exhibit yesterday. Amazing! the fabrics, trims, details... Oh my. Some of the tailoring was just exquisite. I just wanted to get right up on the platforms with the mannequins and lift an arm here, peak under a jacket there... go if you get the chance.

  3. Jenerator | | #3

    argh. Anyone wanna pay for me to travel to and stay in LA for a couple of days? There was a local exhibition on of historical Australian clothing, but it consisted of maybe 20 or 30 different dresses, and some accessories, and was poorly lit, so difficult to see the detail. :-(

  4. statha | | #4

    thanks for sharing this, amazing garments. Isn't it great that we can look online from the other side of the world - and dream of someday getting up close!

  5. Darkducobu | | #5

    It's a very nice work

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