Downton and Us

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We have just closed the doors on our Fourth Annual Fashion Resource Centre Exhibition.  Real estate is always an expensive proposition so we are fortunate to have access to 1000 square feet of prime space through our Boutique @ Seneca.  During the lull in-between winter and spring semesters we are able to transform the space into a gallery and this year (as mentioned in our previous blog) our topic was the au currant – Downton Abbey.  On display were approximately 40 garments from the era in which the series is set.  Although not worn on the show the items chosen were selected because they were comparable to what we might have seen worn by the characters. The parallel between the television show reproduction costumes and the beautiful pieces in our collection couldn’t have been more perfect!

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The Exhibition covered everything from dowager Countess Violet’s predilection for styles worn in the past during her heyday to those that the new vanguard of Mary, Edith, Sybil and cousin Rose wore. We, in turn, have lovely garments from the 1900s to the late 1920s.  Underwear, hats, shoes, coats, gloves and jewellry were also on view.  Images of the actors wearing similar garments gave a point of comparison for those visitors who are not yet fans.

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And, as the series chronicles the lives of males as well as females, upstairs as well as down, we had suitable attire for the Earl of Grantham, his son-in-law Matthew, and servants Mrs. Hughes, O’Brien and Anna.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words (and because I’m sure you would rather see than read about it) here are more photos from the exhibit:

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Our visitors signed our guest book and wrote comments like: Wonderful!, Gorgeous!, Just beautiful!, Exquisite Collection!  Great Exhibition!  Enjoyed my trip back in time! I think we can safely say it was a success.

One comment suggested “you should publish some kind of book to show the public your collection.”  How appropriate as we continue to work on our Digital Fashion Photography project.  This is exactly what we hope to accomplish – a site that will allow virtual visits at any time of the year rather than having to wait for that one week between semesters to mount an exhibit.  That isn’t to say that we wouldn’t still do exhibitions because I believe we would still want to be able to create a context for the garments to be shown within.  There is nothing like being able to see how much people appreciate our artifacts.

In good Downton style we celebrated the opening of the exhibit with a lady-like tea complete with china cups, scones and cream and delicious party sandwiches.

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Many thanks go to the wonderful staff of the School of Fashion for their support.  Gitte Hansen, Chair of the School of Fashion, support staff: Debbie Cadoo and Stephanie Valadao, student staff of the Fashion Resource Centre, Amaryn Boyd and Alex Burke.

So, what’s next?  After the garments are safely stored, back in their boxes or on padded hangers I will be back in the classroom with our summer semester and introducing another class to the Evolution of Fashion using our special archives.

In terms of projects, I am already thinking about next year.  Any thoughts?  What might you like to see in our 5th annual exhibition.  I would love to know what you would like to see.  Send us a comment!

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