It's Fundraising Friday! The FIDM Museum is in the final months of a major fundraising campaign to purchase the Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection, a private collection of 1,200 historic garments and accessories from four centuries assembled by the late Helen Larson, a collector from Whittier, CA. Each Friday, this blog will feature an exquisite piece from the collection, with information on how you can make a donation to keep these one-of-a-kind treasures together and housed in a public collection in Larson's native Southern California.
J. Busvine & Co.
Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection
Though masculine in style, the hourglass shape of these dotted wool waistcoats could only have been achieved by a corset--probably a lightly-boned version designed for horseback riding. The Mayfair firm John Busvine & Co. advertised itself as "Tailors and Riding Habit Makers to the Royal Family and the Courts of Europe." It was not unusual for tailors to make women's riding clothes as well as men's suits; women typically wore sturdy, masculine-style clothing for the energetic sports of riding and hunting, though they always rode sidesaddle, in skirts. These waistcoats were tailored for Alexandra, Princess of Wales, daughter-in-law to Queen Victoria, whose beauty, active lifestyle, and taste for elegant adaptations of menswear made her a fashion icon. Busvine & Co. counted several of Queen Victoria's daughters among its clients, as well as the Empresses of Germany and Russia and the Infanta of Spain. Evidently, Alexandra continued to patronize the firm after her husband, Edward VII, inherited the throne in 1901; by 1903, their advertisements boasted "By Special Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen."
Detail of label
These are just two of many important royal garments in the Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection, which is now is in danger of being dispersed forever or absorbed into another private collection, inaccessible to students, researchers, and the general public. The FIDM Museum needs your help to save the Larson collection. You can make a contribution of any amount online or by mail. Donations are tax deductible; if your company has a matching gift program, your support will go even further. The FIDM Museum has until the end of 2015 to finish raising the necessary funds, so now is the time to join the campaign and help make fashion history.