While doing some research for an upcoming blog post, I had the chance to revisit images from our 2008 exhibit Aesthetes, Bohemians & Craftsmen: Artistic Dress, 1880s–1920s. Combining fashion, textiles, furniture and ephemera, Aesthetes, Bohemians & Craftsmen followed the path of the design rebellion that occurred in reaction to 19th century industrialization. Originating in mid-19th century England, Artistic dress was sparked by influential artists who subverted societal norms. Rejecting the tightly-trussed clothing of the Victorian era, Artistic dressers sought liberated and individually expressive modes of dressing. Abandoning contemporary fashions, Aesthetes adopted the loose, un-corseted styles of ancient Greece and medieval Europe. In the United States, Bohemian artists championed loose-fitting smocks and the aesthetics of Far Eastern art. Craftsmen looked to the past, creating handmade garments and accessories inspired by historic examples. These groups were unified in their rejection of the inexpensive and widely available products of the Industrial Revolution.
As we hadn't yet established our blog, Facebook profile or Twitter account at the time of this exhibition, most of the installation images from Aesthetes, Bohemians & Craftsmen have never been published. In this post, we share a few images from the exhibit. We hope you enjoy this glimpse into the world of Artistic Dress!
The first gallery of the exhibition grounded visitors in late 19th century fashionable dress. Straight from Paris, with corseted silhouettes and extreme proportions, these three ensembles are the antithesis of Artistic Dress. Portraits on the opposite wall highlighted the lives and achievements of six Artistic women: Isadora Duncan, Ellen Terry, Romaine Brooks, Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Annie Garnett and May Morris.