The FIDM Museum Fashion Council's annual study day celebrated the Hooped: Dress of the 1860s exhibition, on view at FIDM's Orange County campus through February 20th. After a southern-inspired luncheon, Council members and their guests toured the gallery and heard talks by Curator Kevin Jones, Museum Associate Joanna Abijaoude, and Textile Conservator Cara Varnell.
A girl's embroidered dress of c. 1865 and a satin corset of c. 1868 in Hooped: Dress of the 1860s
Fashion Council Chair Mima Ransom and committee member Linda Knoth
A girl's hoop petticoat of c. 1863-68
The speakers shattered myths about southern belles and their style secrets. In his talk on mourning dress in the Civil War era, Kevin noted that while one gown in the Hooped show has an 18-inch waist, 24 inches is the average of surviving garments from the era, and they all required corsets. Joanna demonstrated how Walter Plunkett--who designed the costumes for Gone With the Wind, among other historical films--took inspiration from 1860s fashion plates, while adapting Civil War styles to 1930s tastes and figures. And Cara--who conserved the movie's costumes, now housed in Austin's Harry Ransom Center--revealed that Vivien Leigh's dresses actually had 24 1/2-inch waistlines, even though her character, Scarlett O'Hara, claims to have a 17 1/2-inch waist.
The sold-out event was the final gathering of 2015 for the Fashion Council, but an exiting new year of programming will begin in February with the annual "Royal Tea." Membership in the Council--the FIDM Museum's primary support group--is free. The group gathers for four events annually, plus exhibition openings and study tours. (A New York trip is planned for 2016!) Why not join this charitably chic club?