Designer Spotlight

Oleg Cassini

This magenta dress has a V-neckline with an overlapping “wrap” closure. The silk dress has printed bands of turquoise, gold and deep purple.  The long kimono-style sleeves have button cuffs with a printed boarder around the wrists. The same border is repeated at the hemline. It was designed by Oleg Cassini for his 1983 line.

detail of the print on the sleeve

This summer, the Museum of Texas Tech University is sponsoring “Celebrating Our Heroes,” a collaborative exhibition with other Lubbock museums designed to honor local veterans.  Part of the exhibit at the Museum of Texas Tech University, called On The Home Front, highlights the contributions of fashion designers in WWII. Oleg Cassini provides another example of a designer’s role in the war effort.

Born in Paris to a Count and Countess, Oleg Cassini immigrated to the United States and started designing costumes in Hollywood.  In 1941, the first picture he worked on was I Wanted Wings, designing for then newcomer, Veronica Lake.

Actress,Gene Tierney Wearing a Costume Designed by Oleg Cassini, 1941

Unfortunately, the attack on Pearl Harbor soon interrupted his career as a costume designer.  Although he had only lived in America for a few years, he took citizenship in order to fight in WWII with the United States.  He served five years in the US Calvary as a First Lieutenant.

Following the end of his military career, Cassini moved to New York in order to start his own clothing line.  He quickly gained widespread notoriety by his close association with Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy.   Appointed “Secretary of Style” in 1961, Cassini became the exclusive couturier to the White House.  He remarked that his desire was to make Jackie Kennedy the most famous First Lady of all time.

Worn by Jackie Kennedy in 1962, it is now on display at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum

Today, his clothing and bridal lines are still worn by countless celebrities. His designs focus on clean lines, luxurious fabrics, and classic garment shapes.

Suit, Evening

courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Object of the Day

Black Beaded Chiffon Dress, 1926


This sleeveless chiffon dress has a low scoop neckline featuring an intricate design of rhinestones and cut-glass bugle beads.  The same trim outlines the elongated waistline and fans upward on the bodice in an art deco butterfly design.

Detail of the butterfly beading design

We’ve been watching the trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby in anticipation of the movie’s release, which was just pushed back to Summer 2013.  In the movie, costume designer, Catherine Martin, takes a few liberties to modernize the flamboyant style of the 1920s.  How do you think this dress from our collection compares to the black sequined gown featured in the trailer?

Click on the 1920s tag below to see other objects from this decade on our blog

Object of the Day

Tan, Coral & Orange Print Chiffon Beaded Dress, 1920s

This dress typifies 1920s style from the height of the decade. Although this dress may not be considered short by today’s standards, hemlines rose sharply in the 1920s arriving between mid-calf to just below the knee.  Shorter dresses showed off a woman’s legs.

During these transformative years, women opted for a new silhouette in stark contrast to previous styles.  This dress shows the columnar silhouette marked by a low waistline at the hips.  The weight of the dress hangs loosely from the shoulders. In this dress, the hips are defined by the vertical bronze beadwork and pink triangles.  Beading became especially popular in the second half of the 1920s.

Detail of the beadwork and textile print

Fabrics in the 1920s became lighter weight with more women choosing silks and chiffons.  The pattern designs became more vibrant and elaborate. This brightly colored geometric print draws influence from the art deco movement.

Interesting Stuff

USMC Uniforms Worn During WWI & WWII

The E&T Division has a large military uniform collection with representation from all military branches, men and women, from the mid-19th century through today. The two uniforms featured below are United States Marine Corps uniforms from the 6th Marine Regiment.

The 5th and 6th Marine Regiments were awarded the French Croix de Guerre for their bravery and sacrifice in France at the Battle of Belleau Wood, fought from June 1-26, 1918 in World War I. To this day, members of the 5th and 6th are allowed to wear a Croix de guerre Fourragère, the red and green cording shown below, over their left shoulder with their service and dress uniforms.

Fourragère worn with WWI USMC service uniform.

The Marine that wore this WWI uniform was a Sergeant with the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, and has three service stripes on the lower left sleeve, and two wound stripes on the lower right sleeve. The Fourragère shown above would be worn over the left shoulder of this uniform.

WWI USMC, 6th Marine Regiment service uniform.

WWI Arm Patch Insignia for the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines.

WWI USMC campaign hat.

During World War II, the 6th Marines fought in the Pacific Theater. They fought in notable battles such as Guadalcanal, Tarawa and Okinawa.

The Marine that wore the uniform below was a Private First Class, and served in the 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Division during WWII. He was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Ribbon, and WWII Victory Ribbon. Above the right breast pocket is an Honorable Discharge badge, allowing military service men and women to wear their uniforms after WWII when they were discharged from military service.

WWII USMC, 6th Marine Regiment service uniform.

This uniform is on display now in Gallery 1 as a part of the collaborative exhibition Celebrating Our Heroes, from now until November at the Museum of TTU. Come and see the exhibits honoring our men and women at home and abroad during WWII.

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!

Exhibit News

Friday was the May’s First Friday Art Trail, and the votes are in!  This month will feature the most voted for wedding gown from the exhibit They Weren’t Always White.  This 1948 ivory satin wedding gown received the most votes throughout the entire exhibition.

This ivory satin wedding dress with a fitted bodice and a gathered skirt with chapel train was specially made by Neiman-Marcus in Dallas for the bride Mrs. Marian Hinn Riggs, cousin of Mrs. W. C. Holden.

The next most voted for dress is this 1946 aqua chiffon, Lucien Lelong wedding gown, was worn for Kay and Paul Boutin’s May 29, 1946 wedding in Paris, France.

The third most voted for dress is this traditional style wedding gown in ivory brocade worn by Louise Hopkins for her marriage to Harris Faulkner Underwood II on October 12, 1941, at St. Matthews Cathedral in Dallas, TX.

Thank you for your participation!

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