Life as the textile expert at a regional history museum

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Curse Words and Carpet

I have two unrelated stories to share this week. Deal with it. 

Pants and Shorts

On Wednesday I went to the main museum to help dress a small army of mannequins in soccer uniforms (file that under things that don't happen to costume curators at the Met). MOHAI was doing a Free First Thursday promotion with the Seattle Sounders, and the Sounders had gotten really excited and sent over a literal truckload of memorabilia to display. A few weeks ago I was asked about mannequins they could use for jerseys, but then it sounded like they were bringing their own so I sort of forgot about it. But then on Monday I found out that yes, they were providing eight mannequins of their own, but sending twelve outfits, so could they use four of ours? And if ours had legs that would be great because two uniforms include pants and shorts. 

WHAT? PANTS AND SHORTS?!?!?!?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Already I was dubious about just throwing some jerseys on random mannequins and hoping they didn't look saggy and terrible, but if there is one thing I've learned about dressing mannequins it is that men's pants are infuriatingly difficult. Suddenly the anatomy of male thighs and butt becomes the greatest mystery of the universe and you are caught in a battle between having the pants fall down, and sculpting a noticeably gigantic junk-in-the-trunk situation. So I practically screamed "PANTS AND SHORTS?!" when I found out. 

But sometimes there are advantages to working with things that don't qualify as high fashion. It was like "AUGH HOW ARE WE GOING TO GET THESE PANTS TO STAY UP oh hey elastic waistband. Done."

Later in the week I was working on a not easy mannequin with one of my longtime dresser helpers and was telling her the story. She laughed and said that coming out of my mouth "PANTS AND SHORTS" sounded like I was cursing. So I could start saying things like "PANTS AND SHORTS we have a lot of vacuuming to do" or "PANTS AND SHORTS that mannequin looks creepy."

Of Course He Did

This week I also had a very fun meeting at St. James Cathedral. I've been noticing that almost all of the Seattle fashion personalities I research (John Doyle Bishop, Helen Igoe, and Madame Thiry) were Catholics who attended St. James. In some cases they also donated things to the Cathedral, so there was some cool stuff to see. 

The BEST factoid I learned was about John Doyle Bishop. The Cathedral has gone through several renovations and sometime in the 1960s or 70s they were looking to put in new carpet. Apparently JDB offered to pay the full amount for the carpet, but with one stipulation: it had to be his favorite shade of green. 

My Money. My Rules.

And they were like "Great! Green it is!"

Of course he did. Of course John Doyle Bishop didn't go to some local parish church. You better believe John Doyle Bishop attended mass at the Cathedral, and made sure that space was done up in his colors. I mean, why spend your Sundays in a place that doesn't match your own fabulousness? 


The carpet was removed in the 1990s as part of yet another renovation, but apparently they still have pieces of it. And holy PANTS AND SHORTS am I going to borrow some of it if I ever do a JDB exhibit. 

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