Who Knew Presidential Libraries Had Shows Like This?
The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, TX has got an exhibition showing on decades of Oscar De La Renta’s evening and day wear running through October 5th. You can see in the pictures, some evening gowns, a close-up of a dress inspired by a garden, and a larger display of clothing showing the Spanish influence.
The subtitle of this exhibition which is now open and runs through March 8 of next year is “Fashion and Jewelry from the Silver Screen.” And if that doesn’t bring glamour to mind, what will? It covers the 1930s and 1940s and includes gowns by Edith Head and Coco Chanel and real jewels owned by the actresses of the era. This set belonged to Joan Crawford and is gold, diamonds and aquamarines.
Plus there is an accompanying exhibitions portraits by Karsh
Better Homes and Gardens Sewing Book: An Oldie but a Goodie
A number of people have asked me for recommendations for a sewing book for beginners, but I feel unqualified to give the name of a modern one. I haven’t actually surveyed all of them out there and it’s been a long time since I tried to teach anyone to sew.
But I can recommend this book which came out in 1961 to adult sewers and sewers to be. It contains many of the lessons for design and sewing that the Dress Doctors had taught for decades. As you can see, it also has clear illustrations, and some full-color pages on wardrobes, trims, etc. It begins with the basics of equipment, measurements, using patterns, but proceeds to advanced methods like bound buttonholes, and gussets, tailoring and altering designs. There is a section on sewing for children and sewing for the home. The parts on afternoon dresses are my favorite and they show you how you can create your own.
I come across copies all the time in used bookstores and garage sales for a $1 and it came in many forms including a three-ring notebook.
Hollywood Patterns sounds like they did everything glamorous, but they did all kinds of day dresses too as you can see with this shirtwaist dress. After all, lots movies were about ordinary people even if they were put in dramatic situations. This gored shirtwaist, with or without front gathers, had either a narrow tie or open collar, and a variety of sleeves, full-length, short, or the three-quarter which makes it much easier to deal with a jacket. It has a side-opening which was the standard way to make it possible to get dresses with fitted waists on over your head.
The star is this case in Gale Sondergaard who usually played a villainous woman, but she must have been doing something sweet and cheerful to be wearing this dress. She was in The Mark of Zorro in 1940, but was blacklisted and gone from films for decades.
Running September 6th to January 4th of next year are over 280 photographs by Horst P. Horst who was born with a much more mundane name in Germany in 1906. He learned photography in Paris in the 1930s and then came to the United States when World War II broke out. He did fashion photography for Vogue magazine, which is probably how most so us know his fashion work, but he is also famous for his portraits.
As these samples make clear, he was a lover of elegance and a master of composition. The museum curators have prepared some 25 oversized fashion prints of shots taken between 1939 and 1953. If only we could all go and see them…..
Threads magazine offers a newsletter that connects back to their website which offers lots of tips and pictures of techniques. A dress form is so useful that you should check out these options for making your own.
Fashion, dressmaking, and millinery, both vintage and modern, from a historian who practices the crafts. Linda Przybyszewski, Ph.D., AKA Professor Pski, teaches U.S. history at the University of Notre Dame. Her book, "The Lost Art of Dress" is out with Basic Books.