The FIDM Museum is in the final weeks of a major fundraising campaign to purchase the Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection, a private collection of 1,400 historic garments and accessories from four centuries. Each Friday, this blog will present exquisite pieces from the Larson Collection.
Dress, Europe or United States, c. 1835; Bonnet, Great Britain or Europe, c. 1830; Cap, c. 1830s; Collar, Europe, c. 1820-40; Shawl, Europe, c. 1835; Purse, Europe, c. 1830; all Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection. Buckle, Europe, c. 1830-39, Gift of Jay Hampel, 2010.801.1.
The FIDM Museum always attempts to present a thorough and accurate picture of fashion history, which means accessorizing our mannequins with the same attention to detail that a fashionable man or woman of the period would display. This is particularly challenging for the Romantic Era, circa 1815-40. The period was characterized by a flourishing of artistic, literary, and intellectual activity across Europe, as well as a corresponding explosion of creativity in fashion. A well-dressed woman needed a myriad of accessories, not including those largely hidden by her outer garments: shoes, stockings, and several undergarments. Here, a dress of cotton batiste roller-printed with brown flowers and vines is accessorized with a lace collar, belt, purse, and gloves. A cashmere shawl provided warmth without crushing the voluminous sleeves fashionable in the 1830s; a lace cap framed the face beneath a bonnet stiffened with whalebone, to protect the wearer's face from the sun. All of these objects (except the silver belt buckle--a permanent collection piece--and the ribbon belt and leather gloves, which are props) come from the Larson Collection. While giving a splendid overview of the big picture of fashion history, the collection is equally valuable because it so beautifully fills in the small, delicate details for museum visitors, students, and researchers.
The FIDM Museum has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire these rare and beautiful pieces--and many more like them--before the Larson Collection is dispersed forever or sold into private hands. But we need your help to save the Larson Collection. We have raised more than twenty percent of the necessary funds, but we still have a long way to go, and time is running out! Please make a contribution online or by mail, or join our #4for400 social media campaign to donate $4 (or more) by texting "Museum" to 243725. Donations are tax deductible; if your company or organization has a matching gift program, your support will go even further. You can also help by spreading the word on social media, using the #4for400 hashtag. The FIDM Museum as until the end of 2015 to finish raising the necessary funds, so please join the campaign and help save 400 years of fashion history!