Category Archives: Holidays

Fall Fashion Field Trips

Thanksgiving weekend is almost upon us and the lovely fall weather might be double the encouragement for a little fashion field trip.

There are some wonderful exhibitions in full swing that you will want to catch before they, like the fall leaves, disappear. The Fashion History Museum in Hespler makes for a lovely and not too distant drive to the west of the city.  Their exhibit: “Wild and Rare: Fashion and Endangered Species” which opened October 6th in Gallery 1 includes a few pieces from our Fashion Resource Centre.  We’ve provided a purse with Kangaroo fur as well as an ocelot coat.

The “200 years of Wedding Attire Exhibition” is awash in all shades of white and some beautiful bridal pieces.  This exhibition runs until December 18, 2016.



If you are already west of the city, the Guelph Museum is just a few minutes away from the Fashion History Museum and is celebrating the fashion career of Lady Lucille Duff Gordon. Originally from the Guelph area, Lady Duff survived the Titanic and is remembered for “inventing” the fashion show as well as the Merry Widow, wide brimmed hats so popular at the turn of the twentieth century.

The garments on display are truly amazing because they are so incredibly delicate. And, perfectly feminine and appropriate for the “Lady” of the times.













Many of the garments are fragile and one beautiful piece is carefully presented lying flat so no further damage can occur.


Lucille also did designed costumes for many theatre companies including the Ziegfeld Follies.



Some of Lady Duff’s original design sketches are on display and show the silhouette of the period.


Also on display is a depiction of the sinking of the Titanic by fabric artist John Willard. It contains the names of all the passengers and officers including Lucile, and her husband Cosmo.


The exhibition is there until November 13th. For more details:

Although not technically “fashion” the Dale Chihuily glass exhibition at the ROM is a masterful use of colour, texture and pattern that needs to be experienced! There is a wonderful “room” in the midst of the exhibition with a literal glass ceiling, and comfy “pillows” on the floor that allows visitors to take in the display in comfort.


On until January 2, 2017.

Our favourite shoe museum, The Bata has “The Curious History of Men in Heels” exhibition until May of next year. It shows a range of outstanding men’s shoes from the 1800’s beautiful shoes worn by members of the aristocracy to the rhinestone encrusted platforms of Elton John. The exhibit certainly tells a tall tale.


I think we are so fortunate to live in a city and province that provides such “feasts” for the soul in the museum exhibitions available to us. Enjoy your fall fashion field trips!

Dale's signature

New Year, New You?

One of the many advantages of working in an academic institution is a minimum of at least two New Years! We have the academic year which traditionally begins in September as well as the calendar year. This gives us the opportunity to have fresh experiences and new beginnings in general and more specifically with the start of the study of new courses.

For our Fashion Resource Centre, this means opening the doors and the drawers for a new group of students. Decisions must be made from an educational perspective about which items need to be brought into the different classrooms to best illustrate the concepts of the course.
And, we know that the fashion world is all about “new.” And yet, as they say, “Everything old is new again.” As our design students look for inspiration, the garments we have on display rotation may initiate the spark of a new idea.

Inspiration can certainly be found in our zeitgeist. Our students look to the world around them for ideas. Will, for example, the current slate of movies rouse interest in revivals of not just vintage fashion but new fashion?

Carol, Image from

Carol, Image from


Sherlock: The Abominable Bride, Image from


Gods of Egypt, Image from Daily Mail

Will seeing Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella or the Turner exhibition at the AGO provide a colour story or thematic inspiration?

Toronto Theatre, Image from

Toronto Theatre, Image from

Image from

Image from

And, as we embark on a new year the making of resolutions may be an opportunity for new ideas. Often these resolutions have to do with improving our bodies through diet and exercise or becoming more concerned with our health. It is interesting to note that as human beings we often incorporate our appearance into the resolution, whether it is a revision of that appearance or an announcement of having met a particular goal. We often want to communicate through our appearance an important life change. The adoption of a new wardrobe, style, even a new haircut is a subtle (or not so subtle) message that we send to the world.

For women in the past their wardrobe and fashion style would help to communicate a change in status – from girl to young woman; from bride to wife and mother.

From Childhood to Young Woman:

Left: Girl's dress from SFRC; Right: Women's dress from SFRC

Left: Girl’s dress from SFRC; Right: Women’s dress from SFRC

The seasons could be marked with the purchase of a new hat.

Left: Spring Hat, Right: Winter Hat

Left: Spring Hat, Right: Winter Hat

Even the time of day could be identified by the type of dress worn.

Left: Tea Dress, Middle: Day Dress, Right: Evening Dress

Left: Tea Dress, Middle: Day Dress, Right: Evening Dress

What have you planned for this New Year? Are you part of the group embarking on a new area of study? Has something in our zeitgeist inspired the desire for a new career or lifestyle change? Have you a resolution that you are working on and does it involve your appearance? What has inspired this change? Would love to hear from you…simply write in the comments.
Whatever awaits I wish you a Happy, Inspired New Year!

Dale's signature

Easter Bonnets, Parades and the Fashionable Arrival of Spring

Spring has indeed arrived and the latest flowers which have sprung can be found on the Newnham campus in the Fashion Resource Centre window. A selection of over 40 hats is currently on display in the fourth floor hallway in D building, in celebration of Easter Bonnets.

bonnet1 bonnet2
The history of Easter finery in particular has been attributed to the celebration of re-birth and new life with a new addition to one’s wardrobe. Circlets of flowers were also worn in young women’s hair to herald the arrival of spring. What better way to recognize the change from winter to spring than with flowers blossoming?

bonnet3 bonnet4

Spring hats or Easter Bonnets provide the perfect base for a floral celebration. And, when women add a new chapeau to their wardrobe they definitely want to show it off to admiring audiences.


Image from T2Conline

The Easter Parade up and down Fifth Avenue in New York City began as early as 1870 and by the mid-twentieth century had hundreds of thousands of people promenading on a Sunday afternoon.

While the wearing of hats began to lessen the crowds did too but the ritual continued. In 1948 “Easter Parade” starring Fred Astaire and Judy Garland ends with the (now) happy couple strolling along the Avenue.


Image from Wikipedia

Easter Parades were found not only in New York City. Below are images from Toronto’s Sunnyside from the 1920s when beautiful cloche hats were all the rage.


Image from City of Toronto Archives


Image from City of Toronto Archives

The wearing of ones’ best hat, shoes and gloves was not restricted by age. We have a few rare children’s hats in the collection such as this blue felt one that was worn by young girls and purchased at historic Canadian department store retailers such as Simpson’s and Eaton’s.

hat3 pinkhat

The pink straw hat from our collection is similar to the one I am wearing in this photo. One of my first fashion memories is this multi-coloured gingham dress with tulip petal skirt supported by a (scratchy!) crinoline and was my favorite dress of all time. I do recall that the dress came with its own hat, made of the same gingham and was a series of flower petals that duplicated the shape of the skirt. However, the pink straw hat was my new Easter hat and felt more sophisticated than the other! (Please note that my hat and handbag match.)


Fewer opportunities seem to exist today to wear or to own a wardrobe of hats as women once did. If you would like to re-live the glory of hats make a trip up to our fourth floor sometime before mid-April and see the varied choices for Easter Bonnets.