Life as the textile expert at a regional history museum

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Hawks Sadness, Fur Fashion, and Pink Chiffon

Last weekend I started a post about the busy, busy week I had just had, and about how much I was enjoying the city-wide excitement about the Seahawks. It felt like Hawks joy was in the air and we were all intoxicated with it. As I was working on the post last Sunday I thought, "I should wait to finish it until after the game so I can mention the result..."

And then Sunday night I was too sad to do anything. Like the rest of Seattle, I spent the last week in reflective, silent contemplation.

Here are some of the pictures I was going to post...




But the gloom is starting to lift and we can all return to our regularly scheduled lives. 

Two weeks ago (pre-davastating Super Bowl loss) I had two presentations in three days. Tuesday was member night at MOHAI-- an evening to get our supporters all jazzed about 2015.  I talked about the recent mannequin rotation, an upcoming program, and some fun finds in the collection. It went quite well and lots of interesting people came up afterwards to talk to me. One woman was very excited to hear about my background and where I had gotten my degree. One of her questions was if I had a speciality, a particular era perhaps or a type of clothing?

"Well!" I said enthusiastically, "I specialize in Seattle fashion history!" as I gestured to the museum around me.

And she literally gave me this look:

And the struggle continues.

To be fair, we were not standing in front of one of the costume cases I had just been talking about. As it happened, were standing in the "Idea Lab" in the Bezos Center for Innovation which I haven't spent enough time exploring. While I was waiting to talk, I noticed this fantastic idea proposed by a young visitor:

If you can't read it, it is an idea for a machine called "The Dream Cake Maker." The steps are as follows:
1) Draw picture of dream cake
2) Put in slot
3) Out comes dream cake

If this isn't proof that museums are inspiring places, I don't know what is.

On Thursday I gave a talk about fur and fashion at the Henry Art Gallery. It went well, and most importantly, no one showed up to throw red paint on me. I wasn't advocating for fur, but I wasn't trashing it either. Like most fashion topics, I think fur is really complicated, and you do a disservice when you boil it down to a single story. (I don't own any fur, but I actually got some offers from people to wear their family furs at the talk.  I politely explained that when giving lectures I usually do some hardcore sweating, so being swathed in fur seemed like poor choice. I settled for my beetle wing earrings instead.)

The week post-Seahawks loss was pretty quiet but also very productive. I resolved a really complex FIC and tried to catch up on some new accessions--which meant basking in the glory of this mega fabulous gown:

(Ignore the seams on the mannequin torso.
I didn't have time to "fully" dress this for the photo)

It was designed by Kiki Hart (a New York designer) and sold by John Doyle Bishop.

Over this past year I realized that I need to pull back a little and not accept every single JDB dress that gets offered. Even if someday I do an entire exhibit about him and his shop, we already have too many artifacts to display.  Before the donor sent me a picture I was about to say no, but then I saw it and was like...

It also has a matching pink chiffon cape!

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