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I recently had the opportunity to view Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700-1915 currently on display at the new LACMA Resnick Pavilion until March 27, 2011.  This collection includes European men’s, women’s, and children’s garments and loads of accessories.  The cultural influences, aesthetics and technology of clothing design unfold from the exhibit’s opening white dresses from the  Age of Enlightenment through World War I.
This is the first garment that greets visitors upon entering the exhibit.  I learned that only the very wealthy wore white as garments were very fragile in their construction at this time and laundering would be very difficult.  During this period, I don’t think anyone ever asked “Does this dress make my hips look big?”

Check out this gentleman, quite a dandy and apparently men loved to show off their legs in the day.  The exhibit includes many examples of fancy men’s accessories including hats, shoe decorations, jeweled buttons and stockings.

This pair, dressed for the royal courts of Europe, was stunning; she in a lovely blue gown and he in a three-piece suit, bejeweled with paste stones.

The exhibit design done in gray paneled crate-like boxes stood in stark contrast to the delicate and sumptuous clothing, providing a strong effect.  I was disappointed that the garments stood on a mannequin, deep within a crate, cast in shadow, making the details difficult to discern.  There were a few boxes that included a mirror on the back wall which allowed for reflected light and reflection of the back of the garment.  It left me wondering why this wasn’t done on every item displayed.  An incredible detail was the beautifully crafted paper raffia hair pieces.  It was so fun to examine how cleverly paper can be shaped to resemble all types of hair.

This particular dress caught my attention because the textile seemed so different from all the other garments with its’ unusual embroidered design and simple cream and pale grey palette.  The hat was very flat, but flattering and flirty with its’ ribbon tail.  I discovered that it was an outfit intended for a seaside stroll.  Check out the hoop undergarment to the right that was worn with this dress.  So much for comfort.

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