FIDM Museum’s Fashion Council wrapped up their 2012 event season with the Monarchy Lecture & Royal Tea on Saturday, December 1. At this sold-out event, 75 Fashion Council members and friends gathered at FIDM’s Orange County campus to enjoy a Royal Tea, and learn more about British royal dress from The Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection.
As Christina described in her post on Princess Mary’s Going-Away Dress, Helen Larson was fascinated with royal dress, acquiring many excellent examples for her collection. The Monarchy Lecture touched on a few of Helen Larson’s most intriguing royal artifacts, including a 1761 court bodice worn to the coronation of King George III, Princess Charlotte of Wales’ 1816-17 gown, and an investigation into the provenance of pieces worn by Queen Victoria, her children, Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary, and Mary’s daughter, Princess Mary. Dress historians Dale Gluckman and Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell joined curators Kevin Jones and Christina Johnson in presenting this new research.
In introducing the presentations, Dale Gluckman related her personal experiences with Helen Larson in the 1970s and 1980s, and spoke of her admiration for Helen’s collecting connoisseurship in an era when every purchase required numerous letters, telegrams, and phone conversations – a much different process than buying something online today with a single click of the mouse!
Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell presented her findings on the court bodice worn by Lady Mary Douglas, one of six unmarried earls’ daughters who attended the Queen during the 1761 coronation ceremony of George III. Kimberly analyzed the construction and historical context of this silver-embroidered, cloth-of-gold bodice — the only known example of English ‘stiff-bodied’ court costume to survive today. The bodice was x-rayed earlier this year, providing more information about this truly important artifact.
Kevin discussed an early 19th century gown worn by Princess Charlotte of Wales. The dress is printed with symbolic imagery: roses (for England), shamrocks (Ireland), thistle (Scotland), myrtle and acorns (marital flora), as well as multiple ‘Star of the Order of the Garter’ badges—all suitable for Princess Charlotte, heiress to the British throne, and newly married in 1816. Kevin methodically traced the ownership of the dress to members of Princess Charlotte’s household, making it one of only a handful of garments with provenance attributed to this popular princess.
Christina’s presentation described the relationship between Helen Larson and Doris Langley Moore, two of the 20th century’s most important collectors of historic dress. Christina’s research navigated the route from royals’ closets, to Doris’s hands and to Helen’s Whittier, California dining room table (where she opened all her purchases). Her research was facilitated by the Helen Larson Papers, an historically important cache containing hundreds of letters written between the two women, as well as receipts and auction catalogues.
Fashion Council is hard at work on their 2013 event schedule. We’ll keep you posted on upcoming events via this blog, Facebook, and Twitter. We can't wait to see what Fashion Council has up their sleeves for 2013!