Object of the Day

Flame-Color Tulle Maifest Gown, 1960

This dress is entirely constructed of flame-color tulle net.  The bodice is strapless and boned with a side zipper, and the bust area is covered with multiple rows of ruffles.  A false pleated cummerbund encircles the waist. The full skirt is made of multiple rows of narrow, net ruffles over an acetate lining. The skirt is topped with a modified polonaise and a large bow with long streamers.  This dress was made by a local seamstress in Brenham, Texas, and worn by the donor as a Duchess in the Brenham Maifest Annual Celebration.

The festival known as Maifest, takes place annually (since 1881) in Brenham, Texas.  This celebration involves the entire community, highlighting its German heritage.  Maifest begins in January, announcing the Junior and Senior royalty, and continues with events in ending in May.  There are parades showcasing each court, and events that follow including live music and performances, and is kicked off with the traditional Maipole dance.  This year Maifest takes place May 4-5, 2012.

Object of the Day

Ivory Brocade Dress, 1912

April 14, 2012 marks one-hundred years since the Titanic’s sinking.  The clothing and textiles collections at the Museum of TTU has this dress from the same era (1912), and of the same fashion that would have been seen on first class passengers aboard the Titanic.

This ivory brocade dress’ bodice is tucked on the left side of a pointed V-yoke, over which the right side is bound with black satin over a wide French re-embroidered lace.  The trim is repeated on the sleeves, and on the skirt front in a diagonal line from the right side to the lower left, extending around the hemline in the back.

Fashions from the 1910s started changing from the constricting and voluptuous styles of the Edwardian era, to the straight-lined, lighter silhouettes of the Art Deco era.  The flowing and soft look of this period was heavily inspired by the opulent fashion of the Orientalist aesthetic, brought by the Ballet Russes when they performed Scheherazade in Paris in 1910.  Paul Poirot was one of the first designers to make the transition from the corseted look of the Victorian age, into the more natural and draped designs of the modern era.  Many characterize this extravagant and rich fashion style with that of the tragic ocean liner, Titanic.  In more recent pop culture, the PBS mini-series Downton Abbey has popularized this era, as well as its opulent fashions, which begins with the news of the Titanic’s sinking.

1912-1914 Paul Poiret Evening Dress. Courtesy of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Courtesy of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

For more examples from the Museum of TTU textiles collection of this straight-lined, flowing style from the early 1910s era, go to our Current Exhibits page under the exhibit They Weren’t Always White to vote on your favorite Art Deco styled wedding dress!

Object of the Day

Black Cotton with White Polka Dots Fandango Dancer’s Costume

This full-skirted, ruffled dress from the Ethnology Collections of the Museum of TTU was used as a costume for Fandango dancing.  Fandango is a form of Flamenco Spanish dance, and is the main folk dance of Portugal.  It is traditionally accompanied with guitars, castanets and hand-clapping.  Fandango is performed by two dancers (boy and girl, boy and boy, or girl and girl), in which the dancers alternate turns and attempt to out-do the other with more eye-catching feet transitions.  This costume is from Barcelona, Spain.  A red scarf attaches at the back, and ties around the waist in front.  The ankle length skirt is made of 5 layers of ruffles edged in green braid.  Underneath a full, red, organdy petticoat is made of four layers of ruffles, trimmed with narrow double ruffles.

Object of the Day

Blue Velvet and Chiffon Gown over a Copper Slip, 1935

This gown has a floral coupe de velvet design on a blue chiffon background.   It has a sweetheart neckline, shirred waist and belt, gathered sleeves and a broach at the neckline.  The dress is worn over a copper-colored slip giving the dress a unique coloring.  Both the dress and slip are bias cut, designed to hug the body and create draping.

This dress embodies key stylistic elements of the 1930s, which represented a marked departure from the 1920s clothing trends.  The silhouette of the 1930s was softer and more sophisticated than the harsh angles of the 1920s.  Rather than continue the dropped-waist, most dresses fitted closer to the body with a natural waist.  Hemlines dropped creating a long, sleek body line.  Using the technique of cutting delicate fabrics (such as silk and chiffon) on the bias, designers created fluidity that allowed graceful movement of the garment.

1930s Vionnet dress courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum

Regarded as “Queen of the bias cut,” Madeleine Vionnet is credited with inventing and popularizing the technique of cutting cloth diagonal to the grain of the fabric.  Cross cutting the fabric allows it to cling to and move with the curves of the body. The style developed by Vionnet dominated 1930s fashion.  Many Hollywood actresses wore her dresses including Marlene Dietrich, Katharine Hepburn and Greta Garbo. Demonstrated through her bias cut gowns, Vionnet believed that,“when a woman smiles, then her dress should smile too.”

Madeleine Vionnet courtesy of http://www.Vionnet.com

Exhibit News

Today is the first Friday of the month and that means it’s time for the First Friday Art Trail. Today we will be replacing the center dress with this 1941 wedding gown.

This traditional style wedding gown in ivory brocade was worn by Louise Hopkins for her marriage to Harris Faulkner Underwood II on October 12, 1941, at St. Matthews Cathedral in Dallas, TX.  Included in the wedding ensemble is a long veil with face cover and adorned with feathers at the crown, and white satin, heeled sandals.

As with many wedding dresses during WWII, this gown was worn multiple times.  It was also worn by Mrs. Underwood’s sister, Madeleine Hopkins to James K. Wade, as well as her niece.

Don’t forget to vote for your favorite wedding dress here or at the museum for the dress that will be featured in the center May 2012.