FIDM Museum Curator Kevin Jones recently traveled to the East Coast. In today's post, he recounts his adventures, including stops at a Boston cemetery and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
It’s always nice to mix a little business with pleasure. I had just such an experience the last two weeks of June during my venture to the East Coast. I visited friends in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, hit the beach, went to museums, did some vintage shopping (of course!), and toured one of my favorite types of destinations: cemeteries. Yes, you read correctly! While in Boston, I roamed the beautiful grounds of the Forest Hills Cemetery, taking in the commemorative architecture and heavenly statuary.
As it’s always a pleasure to meet someone fashion-related wherever I go, it was my good fortune to call on Massachusetts native Richard H. Lufkin (1851-1922). Do you know him? I’ll bet a large percentage of you reading this blog post are wearing the result of one of his innovations right now.
Richard was the inventor—and a gold medal winner at the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893—of the vamp folding machine, a piece of machinery used by shoe manufacturers. I can hear the shoe fetishists swooning! He was successful enough to have a spiffy mausoleum erected in his memory complete with a carved granite rendition of his patented machine over the entrance, and inside, a stained-glass window portrait of Richard holding his prized invention. I became very thankful to Richard for his fashion genius as I walked around the cemetery in comfortable shoes.
Now for that bit of business that came at the end of my pleasurable trip. The FIDM Museum is proudly participating in the upcoming groovy exhibition and far-out catalogue Hippie Chic, curated by Lauren Whitley at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. We loaned six outfits to the show, which opens July 16 and runs through November 11, 2013. I was at the MFA for three days installing FIDM Museum garments: for the guys, an Indian caftan worn by Rudi Gernreich, an East West Musical Instruments jacket, and a Sidereal Time and Levi’s ensemble; and for the ladies, a Hanae Mori ensemble, a Thea Porter dress, and a Giorgio di Sant’ Angelo gown.
Courier trips are fun, and meeting colleagues on their home turf and seeing so many years of hard work coming into fruition is rewarding. And I love dressing mannequins, though it’s not always as easy as slipping a garment over a mannequin’s head and achieving perfection. More often than not, mannequins need to be manipulated in some way. Example: for the Sidereal Time ensemble, the mannequin was too tall and buff. As seen in this rather painful looking shot, the pecs were sanded down; an inch was removed from the torso; two inches from the thighs; his, umm, “package” was removed (much to the chagrin of the carpenter, I heard!); and his butt cheeks sawn away.
Even with all this surgery, the pants are still open about three inches in the front, which happily are covered by the long blouse. This was a skinny guy!
For the Hanae Mori palazzo pants ensemble, the opposite was needed, and I had to build up the mannequin to achieve the correct proportions. Here, you see the mannequin in the MFA’s fabulous conservation laboratory as I sewed layers of needle-punched batting onto the pantyhose-covered form, reshaping the mannequin’s bust, shoulder blades, waist, abdomen, hips, and buttocks.
With help from in-house conservator Claudia Iannuccilli, who shared with me some of the tricks of her trade, our lady turned out looking perfectly (hippie) chic!
I recommend digging out your Qiana shirts, bell-bottoms, platform boots, and rocking your way on a yellow submarine to Boston this summer for Hippie Chic. It’ll be a mind-blowing “trip” worth taking, but be warned: hookahs are not allowed inside the museum!