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Inspiration

Up Close with Syracuse University’s Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection

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At Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, fashion design professor and curator Jeffrey Mayer installs an exhibition every fall to inspire incoming and returning students. In typical years, he and his colleagues curate and mount an elaborate show, drawing from the Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection, housed at the university. This year was different, to say the least. Without knowing if the university would open at all, Professor Mayer and collection manager Kirsten Schoonmaker decided to organize a beautiful vintage fashion display, but with fewer garments.

Syracuse University’s costume collection has been the source of the Threads “Back Cover” photos for more than two years. Threads Contributing Editor Judith Neukam works closely with Professor Mayer to select and interpret images of garments from the collection for the magazine’s back cover and the “How Did They Sew That?” Department.

The fall 2020 exhibition features a selection of the Threads back covers, plus the garments they explore.

Sew a Ribbon Bow Belt with a Hidden Closure

 

A 1964 jacket and dress with ribbon bow belt with hidden closure
Adele Simpson successfully designed women’s fashions for 50 years. She brought couture techniques to the popular market and was honored with numerous design awards. This 1964 dress-and-jacket ensemble exemplifies her classic style, elegant craftsmanship, and thoughtful attention to detail. From meticulous lining and carefully planned proportions to bound buttonholes and a petersham belt with a bow, Simpson’s design is more than the sum of its parts.

Fabric Flower Pattern

 

1924 vintage fashion: robe de style dress has a fabric flower adornment on the left shoulder
French couturière Jeanne Lanvin is credited with introducing the robe de style in the 1920s. It was a popular alternative to the straight chemise silhouette of the flapper dress, and it was enthusiastically embraced in American and French fashion. The robe de style is characterized by a slightly dropped waist and full skirt that may even be supported by panniers. The bodice is often sleeveless with a modest neckline. This version, made around 1924, includes ruched trim on the bodice and skirt and a contrasting fabric flower adornment on one shoulder.

Double the Peplum

 

Post World War II vintage fashion: A woman's suit featuring a jacket with a shaped, two-tiered peplum
Elegant women’s suits were at their zenith during the mid-20th century. Excellent style in the post-World War II years depended on good fit and inventive and flattering design. From Portland, Oregon, fashion retailer Nicholas Ungar comes this feminine suit, which uses a double collar and shaped, two-tiered peplum to add panache to a traditional jacket.

Curved Bands

 

1995 fashion: Black satin evening jacket features inset curved band detail on the front bodice
This black satin evening jacket, created in 1995 by design duo Conover Mayer (Todd Conover and Jeffrey Mayer), is graced with four elegant features: a sophisticated inset band detail on the front bodice, an in-seam buttonhole in a pointed tab, a cloverleaf neckline, and a crescent-shaped sleeve cap. This original style would be equally exquisite daywear made in another fabric such as linen or wool crepe.

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