Interesting Stuff

Green and Orange Silk Shantung Pants, 1960s

Bold, bright pants are all the rage this season. Seen on the pages of fashion magazines and a mainstay favorite of many celebrities, this outrageous trend is anything but new.

Daring prints and vivid-colored trousers were first seen in the late 1950s as a women’s fashion alternative to the skirt. These two pairs from the Museum of Texas Tech University’s Clothing and Textile division are dated from the 1960s. High-waisted with a tapered ankle, they represent the typical silhouette of mid-century women’s slacks. The pants are made from shantung which is a durable, woven silk fabric. Shantung has the visual appearance of roughness but is actually very soft.

So the next time you step out in your favorite vibrant slacks, remember you are among the risk-takers of fashion’s great history.


Behind the Scenes

Celebrating our Heroes

In collaboration with the History Division at the Museum of Texas Tech University, we in the Costume & Textiles Division have been gathering and researching our collections to create On the Homefront. The exhibit will feature clothing and artifacts that highlight the United States military efforts of World War II, both stateside and overseas.

With the opening of the Celebrating our Heroes exhibition right around the corner, we wanted to give you a sneak peak of what we’ve been up to!

Lauren adjusting the placement of a female officer’s cap. Pins must be unobtrusive to the garments, yet provide stability while on exhibit.

Mei sewing a muslin backing onto a quilt. The muslin provides protection while on display; a common stabilization technique.

We use white paper to create period-appropriate hair styles. Here, Rebecca is pinning curls to form Victory-style bangs.

So much is happening for this gigantic exhibition- so don’t miss out! Be sure to check out the events schedule on the Celebrating our Heroes website. We hope you will join us for one – or all! – of the fun activities. It’s going to be an exciting summer!

Interesting Stuff

Image courtesy of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

In honor of Black History Month and the upcoming World War II exhibit at the Museum of Texas Tech University, we have chosen to highlight the life achievements of Dr. Charles Drew, a leading innovator of the 20th century in blood plasma processing and storage.

Born on June 3rd 1904 in Washington D.C., Drew stood out as a talented athlete. He graduated as a four-year letterman from Dunbar High School showing potential for a career in sports coaching and administration. He attended Amherst University both running track and playing football.

Image Courtesy of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History

 While a professor of chemistry and biology at Morgan State College, Drew decided to pursue a life-long dream of attending medical school. He enrolled in the Medical School of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, graduating in 1933 second in his class with both his doctorate of medicine and masters in surgery. Drew then pursued multiple internships at hospitals in Montreal, Howard University and Columbia University, where he earned a Rockefeller Fellowship in 1938. This opportunity allowed him the resources to pursue his research of blood composition and storage. With World War II burgeoning in Europe, Drew developed a process in which plasma could be dried and preserved in mass quantities, making it easily accessible on the battlefield. Drew was chosen as the medical supervisor for the plasma collection effort for the American Red Cross in both Great Britain and the United States. In 1942, a controversial ruling regarding the segregation of blood by ethnicity caused Drew to resign from his position. He then accepted simultaneous offers for a position as a surgeon at Freedmen’s Hospital and a professor of medicine at Howard University.

Image Courtesy of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

Dr. Charles Drew died in a car accident on April 1st 1950 at the age of 45. He will always be remembered for his significant contributions to the wartime effort, as well as racial equality in the medical field.

Object of the Day

Three Ballerina Boudoir Dolls, 1920s

The notoriously dubbed “roaring 20s” marked a vibrant shift in fashion trends and, thus symbiotically, the social scenes of both Europe and the United States. Suppressed alcohol regulations encouraged an underworld of rebellion and exploration. Shoes gained inches to highlight dresses cropped short of the ankle. Sleeveless dresses with plunging necklines accentuated the daring “bob” hairstyle. Bee-stung lips in deep hues of reds and purples accompanied elaborated costume jewelry. Silent films and photographic tabloids were revolutionary in informing the mass public of the latest crazes and took much credit for the changing times. They illuminated the faces of the new generation and worked to inspire the newfound freedom.

Courtesy of Getty Images

The boudoir doll grew in popularity around 1920. Owned by young women between late teenage years and early 30s, these dolls were not made for play. Instead, they sat on the bed or lounge couch of the young lady. Boudoir dolls were typically larger than others, ranging from twenty to thirty inches from toe to head. They were dressed in sumptuous attire that reflected the swankiest styles of the elite. Women tended to their dolls as cherished children, combing their hair and redressing them as fashions changed. Boudoir dolls served to symbolize the new modes of dress while simultaneously marking the glamorous personal style of their owners.

Alexandria Danilova with her boudoir doll. Courtesy of Getty Images.

The three ballerina boudoir dolls in the Museum of Texas Tech collection were made in France in the 1920s. They have entirely cloth bodies, silk-woven hair strands and minutely hand-painted faces. Their dresses form tulip shapes of faded pink and yellow linen. These dolls mark the popularity of the ballet in the early 20th century as a “see and be seen” social function. Moreover, they accentuate their owner’s informed and stylish taste.


Staff Favorite

CHANEL, Two-Piece Wool Suit, 1960s

When I think of Chanel, I imagine stark black and white contrasts in boxy silhouettes, metallic and pearl accessories, and heavy wool blends. Mix these together and you have a recipe for the perfect Chanel suit.

Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, the founder and namesake to the fashion house, turned the industry on its head with her androgynous approach to women’s clothing. She emphasized comfort and simplicity in all her designs and dared to utilize men’s clothing as inspiration. This 1960s, two-piece, wool suit represents the core ideals of all Chanel creations by playfully intermixing traditional feminine and masculine shapes. The form-fitted, mid-knee length skirt offsets the prominent shoulder structure of the jacket. Buttons on the cuffs and center closure are emblazoned with the classic double “C’s”.

The suit embodies not only the innovative character of all Chanel fabrications, but sets the bar for quality workmanship and design.

Designer Spotlight

KRAMER OF NEW YORK, Jewelry Set, Earrings, Pin & Bracelet, date unknown

Founded in 1943 by Louis Kramer, Kramer of New York was one of the largest costume jewelry design firms of its time and is recognized to this day for its ostentatious and extravagant style. Ranging from intricate beadwork to rare crystals and gems, Kramer of New York intentionally widened its accessibility to attract a broader audience. Prices were made reasonable, varying from inexpensive to over-the-top.

The three-piece set in the Museum of Texas Tech’s collection reflects the grandiose flair of Kramer of New York jewelry. The earrings, pin and bracelet are made from the same variety of cut crystal and mounted on sterling sliver backings. A small engraving on the interior of the pin indicates the Kramer brand.

In the 1950’s, Louis’ brothers Morris and Harry joined the business, leading to their partnership with Christian Dior to design a couture line of jewelry.

Kramer of New York closed in 1980 and remains a significant player in the costume jewelry industry today.

Designer Spotlight

YVES SAINT LAURENT, Peach satin pumps, 1970s

Algerian born designer Yves Saint Laurent, (August 1st 1936- June 1st 2008), transformed the direction of women’s fashion in the 20th century. Laurent’s career began at the age of 17 for the fashion house of Christian Dior following his success in an international design competition. Four years later, Laurent found himself the Haute Couture designer for the label at the unexpected death of Dior. In 1960, following a traumatic military stint, Laurent founded his line of clothing, shoes and accessories with longtime partner Pierre Berge. The satin low-heel pumps in the Texas Tech collection are from his later creations in the 1970s, reflective of the styles from the 1930s and 1940s.

Yves Saint Laurent, Getty Images.

Berge and Laurent quickly gained fame for crafting couture-inspired ready-to-wear women’s clothing. Most famous of his designs is Le Smoking Tuxedo Suit, a female pantsuit aimed at questioning the boundaries of gender fashions. Androgynous influences such as exaggerated shoulders and undefined waistlines characteristically defined many of Laurent’s creations.

Sketch of Le Smoking Tuxedo, Yves Saint Laurent 1966. From Telegraph Media Collection.

Le Smoking Tuxedo, Yves Saint Laurent 1968. From Harper's Bazaar Collection.

Yves Saint Laurent further revolutionized late century fashion by employing the first ethnically diverse models on the runway. Bold colors, geometric shapes and masculine silhouettes additionally reflected his ethnic inspiration.

The Mondrian Dress, Yves Saint Laurent, Fall 1965 from Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection.

Yves Saint Laurent is highly credited for his emphatic influence on women’s clothing trends throughout the 20th century, encouraging empowerment and equality by redefining feminine color choice and shape.