Are you fascinated with the etiquette of 18th century court dress? Do you regale your family and friends with the details of Christian Dior's impact on 20th century fashion? Do your bookshelves groan with the weight of all your fashion books? If this sounds familiar, consider joining the Costume Society of America (CSA), an organization dedicated to promoting the understanding of dress and appearance through scholarship and study. The CSA annual symposium, held in a different North American city each year, is a haven for those of us interested in fashion and fashion history. For three days in late spring, scholars and enthusiasts immerse themselves in all the latest research. This year's conference included a keynote address by Andrew Bolton of The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, presentations on making a career in dress and textile studies, dressing the macaroni male, the conservation of Voudou ceremonial artifacts and many other areas of dress and textile studies. In this blog post, FIDM Museum curator Kevin Jones recaps CSA presentations and workshops by FIDM Museum staff.
Staff from the FIDM Museum have been out and about recently, both nationally and internationally. Our first stop was Atlanta, Georgia, for the 38th Annual National Symposium of the Costume Society of America. Not only did we network with colleagues and visit world-class museums, but there was plenty of FIDM Museum participation, too. Study Collection Manager and mount maker Carolyn Jamerson and Social Media Manager Rachel Harris teamed up for a much anticipated 2-hour workshop on the making of archival-quality polyester felt and wire invisible mounts. The 30 participants (and a waiting list of 10 hopefuls) learned the techniques of creating custom-made mounts that can be used for both exhibition and storage. Each attendee received a starter package that included all the supplies and instructions needed, and got to make a miniature corset mount to take home.
Miniature corset mount. Made from felt stiffened by wire supports, this mount invisibly supports a small corset. Read more about how we make invisible mounts here.
FIDM Museum curators Kevin Jones and Christina Johnson gave a three-hour presentation about what it takes to put together an exhibition and catalogue. Using their latest endeavor FABULOUS! Ten Years of FIDM Museum Acquisitions, 2000-2010 as a case-study, the duo walked the audience through three PowerPoint presentations: Exhibition Planning: Concept to Creation, which focused on theme development, object selection, and gallery design; Writing a Catalogue: Photography to Printing, which covered design and layout, word-count and image selection, and quality-control and distribution; and Installation: Dressing and Display, which explained about mannequin selection, object placement, and text panels. There was much audience participation as the curators were peppered with questions throughout their talk.
And wrapping up the FIDM Museum expertise was a presentation by Collections Manager Danielle Killam. She discussed a conservation project that she and Conservator Cara Varnell jointly conducted on the museum’s Madame Olympe Boisse reception gown from 1860s New Orleans; one of only two complete ensembles known by this Franco-American designer. The multi-step project of analyzing how, when, and why the ensemble’s skirt had been taken apart, fitted with a later Nylon lining, and reworked with a new waistband was crucial to determining if the skirt could be brought back to its original shape. This year-long, fully documented project proved successful, and made for an educational experience at the CSA Symposium.
One member of the FIDM Museum staff could not be with us in Atlanta. Registrar Meghan Hansen decided instead to have a baby just as the rest of us left for CSA. Congratulations to the Hansen family and welcome to baby Soren! We are so excited to have our first museum baby to dress up, and he is so cute that we may decide to catalogue him into our collections!!