Saturday, August 24, 2013

Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity - Costuming Adventure

My Tea Ladies and I went to the Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity exhibit at Chicago's Art Institute.  If you haven't yet seen it - go.  It is amazing.  I understand now why one of my friends was brought to tears by it: upon entering the first room, you see a painting of a woman in a gown, across from it is an original gown which is strikingly similar (and in one case it is the actual gown that was worn for the painting) and incredibly beautiful.  Rooms and rooms with paintings and gowns, a costumer's delight.  This was one occasion where (for me) dressing up in costume was mandatory.  I worked very hard to complete a bustle gown using Truly Victorian patterns 208 and 400.

I got a lot of questions and comments.  Some thought I was an employee of the Art Institute.  Questions included: "How do you sit down in that dress?"  "Are you wearing a corset?" (I was).  Even, "How do you go to the bathroom?" (Really?!).  And, "Can I touch your bustle?" (asked by a woman, so I wasn't creeped out by it it, at least, not too much!).  I was asked to take photos with people outside the exhibit.  The funniest reaction was this: My friends and I were moving onto the next room.  We passed in front of a man and wife, I walked past first.  My friends told me after that the man had startled, then said to his wife, "It's like the Twilight Zone, like she walked out of the painting"!

The exhibit runs through the end of September.  Tickets purchased in advance is a good idea.  I would have posted a few photos from the exhibit, by it was forbidden.  Here are a couple of my dress:

Me with "Dad", also known as the painting American Gothic - my father looked almost exactly like the man in the painting!

Outside the exhibit.

A close-up of the bustle.  This was taken after the event, so sorry about the wrinkles.  I just love this bustle.

A better close-up, showing the clever sewing technique to achieve the bustle (along with the bustle pad worn underneath).  Truly Victorian patterns are some of the best historical patterns to work with!


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