The Replacement Dress

The Up Cloche exhibition has been up since January and, in addition to many amazing hats, contains a few dresses from our collection. Recently, we became concerned about the condition of one. The dress is heavily decorated with beads and rhinestones, all on a base of 100-year-old silk charmeuse.

The problem dress is at the center.

Originally, the exhibition was supposed to come down in August; however, it has been extended through the end of November. To spare this dress the stress of the additional three months, the decision was made to take it down.

That meant that we needed to find something new to put in its place.  The item we found was this lovely 1928 embroidered evening dress!

The replacement dress on display.

The dress is a lovely moire silk, decorated with beads and embroidery from a new collection of clothing we’ve recently received. This collection had several really lovely 1920s dresses and many of those would have worked well in the exhibition. This one ended up being chosen for a few different reasons.

The first reason was stability. We took the original dress down because we were worried about its structural integrity, so we didn’t want to need to replace it again before the exhibition was over. Many of the other options had heavy decorations on a very lightweight base fabrics. This moire not only in great condition, but it also is just a more robust fabric than the charmeuse and chiffon that are often used as a base in so many other dresses. Additionally, because the majority of the decoration on this dress is done using embroidery it is much lighter than the other options, meaning that the dress will be under less stress while being displayed.

We also considered how the dress would fit in to the exhibition on an intellectual level. In some instances the japonesque nature embroidery might have been a distraction. After all, nothing else in the exhibition explicitly brought up that element in 1920s dress. Luckily, it ended up supporting the work that the curators had already done in the exhibition, so only minor changes to the explanatory text were necessary.

The last reason for choosing this dress was purely aesthetic. We needed something that would harmonize with the surrounding items.  It couldn’t clash horribly with the dresses next to it or blend in too much with the wall. It needed to look like it had been there all along.
As you can see, our new dress looks like it was made to be there. It stands out from the cool grey walls nicely and doesn’t fight with the other dresses for attention. All told, I am very pleased with the change.

You all have until November 23rd to see this new addition for yourselves.  It’s a wonderful excuse to come back to the museum, even if you’ve seen Up Cloche already!

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