The Art of French Fashion at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art


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Spring 2002

The Art of French Fashion at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
The latest costume exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut, features twenty examples of excellence in costume workmanship from France dating from the 1760s through the 1920s.
Carol Dean Krute, Curator of Costume and Textiles at the Wadsworth Atheneum, notes several “waves” of Franco-mania by Americans throughout this almost two hundred year-period. The first wave occurred in the eighteenth century, and is represented by a woman’s brocaded silk gown, and a man’s tan velvet suit. An American craving of all things French reached another apex in the mid-late nineteenth century, with the opening of the International Exhibition in Paris in the late 1860s. One innovation from this period is the princess line, which eliminated a waist seam, seen on the garment in the accompanying figure, above.
Perhaps the most well-known wave of French style in America occurred around the turn of the twentieth century. It was about this time that couturiers such as the House of Worth, Doucet, Chanel, Lanvin, Patou, and Vionnet, among others, cast their spell on American women (a sub-theme of the exhibition touches upon the role of women in running many of the couture houses at this time).
The exhibition also features the transition of jewelry in French fashion, with examples of Victorian, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco jewelry.

The exhibition was inspired by the loan exhibition Matières de Reves: Stuff of Dreams from the Paris Musée des Arts Décoratifs, which is on view at the museum from June 1 to August 11, 2002. The Art of French Fashion will be on view at the Wadsworth Atheneum from March 16 through August 18, 2002. For information, please call (860) 278-2670, or visit TDD is (860) 278-0294.

Day dress, c. 1867

Label: Enout & Cie./Robes & Confections/25 Place Vendome/Paris

Bright blue silk grosgrain, chenille fringe

Gift of Miss Elizabeth Russell Hooker, 1962.344

Evening dress, c. 1925

Label: Jeanne Lanvin/Paris Hiver 1925-26

Balck silk with pink rose appliqués

Gift of Mrs. Frank W. Crocker 1961.714

Costume Society of America

Region I Board Members


Jeffrey Butterworth
Vice President

Susan Jerome


Jacqueline Field

Carrie Alyea

Joanna Cadorette

Rebecca Fifield

Karen Herbaugh

David Lazaro

Maryann Sadagopan

Past President: Claudia Iannuccilli
Appointed Officers & Committee Chairs

Pat Baker

Newsletter Editor

David Lazaro


Susan Jerome

Publication Sales

Joan Walther

The Region I Newsletter is published three times a year. The deadline for the next issue is August 15, 2002. Please send exhibit listings, new book notices, professional news, etc., to:

David E. Lazaro

234 Florence Road

Florence, MA 01062

The newsletter editor is seeking volunteers to help with the Region I newsletter. If interested, please contact me at

Thank you!
President’s Message
Dear Fellow CSA, Region I Members:
I must begin with offering my thanks to the outgoing members of the Board of Directors:  Barbara Broudo and Cynthia Cooper (Barbara graciously completed Cynthia's term,) Donna Bartsch Locke, who not only served as Region I Newsletter editor, but goes on to bigger and better things as President of the National Board of Directors, and the fabulous Adrienne Saint-Pierre, the best Vice-President I have ever had.  I would also like to thank the Nominating Committee, including Barbara Broudo, Jacqueline Field, and headed by John Burbidge as Tally Chair.  The five candidates were all splendid and I heartily welcome the incoming directors: Carrie Alyea, Joanna Cadorette and Rebecca Fifield.
If you are getting the feeling, from this list of people that it takes a great many to run this organization, even on a regional level, you would be correct.  Why isn't your name among them?....volunteer!  Ned Lazaro needs volunteers to help with this newsletter.  Again it would be a great help if some individuals would take the responsibility for reporting on, and keeping up with, the costume related activities of their areas (ie. Western Massachusetts, RI, etc.)  Another example of need that would bring important balance to the organization is for a non-Board member to serve on one of the various committees that plan and organize regional activities and functions.  Why not co-chair a symposium?  Webster's New World College Dictionary (1999) primarily defines a volunteer as "a person who chooses freely to do or offer something."  The fourth sub-definition has the legal implications, "a person who chooses freely to enter into a transaction with no promise of compensation..."  Luckily, as volunteers for CSA, one is compensated with fraternization with colleagues - an experience of estimable value.

The next Region I event is our Fall Symposium at the American Textile History Museum in Lowell Massachusetts on Saturday, November 16, 2002.  The subject will be costume treasures and problems or questions.  The format may include shorter presentations than the usual twenty to thirty minutes, so if you have ever wanted to present, but balked at the length of time required, this may be your best chance.  The call for papers is in this issue of the Newsletter. 

(continued on page 3)

President’s message continued…

If you have any ideas about future symposia, or any

suggestions regarding the organization,  please let

one of the Directors know.  Again, this is your organization, but we need your input and participation. 

Have a wonderful Spring and I hope to see you all in Lowell in the Fall.

Sincerely yours,

Jeffrey A. Butterworth
RISD Museum Features Asian Textiles from the Collection
The Rhode Island School of Design Museum will feature Asian clothing and textiles donated by Lucy Truman Aldrich, the eldest daughter of Rhode Island Senator Nelson Aldrich. The objects, mostly collected by “Miss Lucy” in the 1920s, were given to the museum between 1935 and her death in 1955. Pictured below is a fabric detail of a Japanese kesa, or vestment. For more information, please call (401)454-6348 or

Fabric detail of a Japanese kesa, or vestment, 19th c.

silk and metallic thread; 81” x 46”

Rhode Island School of Design 35.272a

American Textile History Museum Exhibition Gives Thought to the Uniform

Photo of welder Rosie Taggi, wearing leather overalls and jacket, helmet, and ID badge, c. 1944. Loaned by the Richmond Museum of History

The American Textile History Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts, is featuring the exhibition All for One & One for All! Uniforms in Fact and Fantasy. Curated by guest curator Nancy Rexford, who was assisted by Kathleen McDermott and Elizabeth Fragala, the exhibition displays more than 50 items of clothing that explore the concept of the uniform in Ameican society.

Among the pieces on display are traditional military uniforms, including arny fatigues worn by Secretary of State Colin Powell. There are also those uniforms worn by people in non-military capacities, such as a nurse’s uniform from the early twentieth century and a 2001 New York City firefighter’s uniform, the latter garment taking on a special significance in light of recent events. There is also a traditional nun’s habit, in the style before the late 1960s. The habit was made especially for the exhibition, from memory, by Sister Irene Ledoux.
There are also pieces that challenge the traditional definition of a uniform, but take on a uniform quality in light of the exhibition. One example includes the display of three dresses from the late 1950s, “uniforms” for young women in social settings at that time. All three garments are very similar in their fabric, cut, and appearance given to the wearer. Another example, seen in the accompanying photo, includes the “uniform” of a real-life “Rosie the Riveter”, from about 1944. The exhibition also looks at the “uniforms” worn by young people in the twenty-first century, including baggy cargo pants and rave wear.
All for One & One for All! Uniforms in Fact and Fantasy is on view until May 27, 2002. Please call (978)441-0400 for more information.

In the Region…

Save the date of Saturday, November 16, 2002, for the Fall Region I Sympoisum, entitled “Show & Tell and “Mystery” Objects”. The announcement is inserted into this newsletter.

Northampton Silk Project Silk Unraveled! Smith College, Northampton, MA. The Northampton Silk Project (, in celebration of the city’s important silk history (1832-1932), will host a symposium on September 25-28, 2002, when it welcomes the 8th Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America: “Silk Roads, Other Roads.” For more information, please contact Smith College at or the Textile Society of America at


The Harvard Historical Society in Harvard, Massachusetts has been awarded a Scholar in Residence Grant, which is supported by a collaborative grant program of the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities and the Bay State Historical League. The project scholar, Deborah Saville, will perform research for the Society's upcoming exhibit Captured in Clothes: the Legacy of Mary Olney Abbot. Ms Saville is completing her Masters Degree in Historic Costume and Textiles and is the recipient of a 2001 Stella Blum Research Grant from the Costume Society of America. Containing over 20 items of costume including several high-fashion gowns from the 1880s and 1890s, this exhibit will contrast the lifestyle and clothing of Mary Olney Abbot with those of her four children. The exhibit will open in September 2002.

David E. Lazaro, Region I Editor

234 Florence Road

Florence, MA 01062

Exhibitions in the Region…


Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut, will feature the exhibition The Art of French Fashion from March 16 through August 18, 2002 (see cover story). For more information, please call(860)278-2670, or visit TDD is (860)278-0294.

Windsor Historical Society, Windsor, Connecticut, is featuring the exhibition What Windsor Wore: Exploring History Through Dress until August 16, 2002. For information, please contact the Windsor Historical Society at (860)688-3813.


The Old York Historical Society in York, Maine, features some of the clothing worn by Elizabeth Bishop Perkins, the benefactress of the organization, in the house where Ms. Perkins lived while she was in Maine. Examples include European couture dresses, as well as pieces from China, Japan, India, and Africa. For more information, please contact OYHS at (207)363-4974.


The Armenian Library and Museum of America, 65 Main St., Watertown, "From Hayastan to Hindustan: The Art of Armenian and Indian Interlaced Embroidery", May 19, 2002 - January 12, 2003. The opening day (May 19) will feature an Armenian and Indian embroiderer. Gallery hours are Sun., Tues., and Fri. from 1 to 5 p.m. and Tues. evenings from 7 to 9 p.m., other times by appointment. (617)926-2562 x25.

The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, is offering a lecture and tour entitled The Fabric of Family Life: Textiles at the Ropes Mansion, to be held on Tuesday, June 11, at 1 p.m. Paula Richter, curator of textiles and costumes, discusses the Ropes family collection of textiles, and what these objects reveal about the age in which they were created and the lives of the people for whom they were made. Space limited, reserve early. For more information, please call (800)745-4054, ext. 3011, or visit This program will also be offered in August at a date to be determined.
The Porter-Phelps-Huntington Foundation will be featuring an exhibition entitled Inside and Out: A Look at Three Centuries of Style at the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Foundation, June 21-October 12, 2002. This exhibition features women’s clothing on display from the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, and investigates the influence of fashion on dress construction. For more information, please contact the museum at (413)584-4699.

The Trustees of Reservations will feature an exhibition highlighting the summer of 1897 at Naumkeg House in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Naumkeg, located in the Berkshires, was the summer home of the Choate family, where in 1897 President McKinley paid a visit. On display will be historic clothing inspired by the period of that presidential visit. For more information, please call (413)298-3239.

Rhode Island

The Rhode Island School of Design will feature A Tribute to Miss Lucy: Asian Textiles from the Permanent Collection in four installments, through June 22, 2003. See story inside for more details. For information, please contact (401)454-6348 or


Bright Kids: Smart Clothes! From May 17 until September 22, the Marsil Museum will present an exhibition showcasing clothing designed by the pupils of grade 4 at l'École des Saints-Anges of Saint Lambert and innovations from Philips Design, CHRISTINA America and Dockers (Levi Strauss & Co.). For more information, please contact Isabelle Guibert, Communications Officer (450) 923-6601 /

Technology and the Management of Costume Collections provided innovations to participants
On Saturday, April 13, about 55 participants attended the Costume Society of America, Region I, symposium, held at the Connecticut Historical Society (CHS). Made up mostly of members from Region I, but also drawing Region II members, as well as non-CSA members, the symposium explored the innovations and uses of a wide range of technological improvements to assist in managing costume collections.

The morning presenters offered a wide range of technological solutions in dealing with historic costume and textiles. Kathi Martin, the keynote speaker, presented the process through which she designed the historic costume website for Drexel University. Kathi presented some of the many challenges she faced. The website provides an innovative look at costumes in the collection through search criteria such as designer, fabric, and year, to name a few. Harold Mailand provided a retrospective talk on conservation in the United States. Throughout his career as a conservator, Harold has had the responsibility to design costume storage to replace those that are cramped or insufficient. His slide lecture took us through some of the processes involved in that aim. Harold also provided insight into the history and evolution of the coat-hanger! Joy Emery presented her research (and hard work) developing the commercial pattern archive, in her talk. The lecture touched upon Emery’s technological needs for the project, and served as an introduction to developing a specific database.

The mid-day activities kept participants active and (hopefully) well-fed. Participants were able to tour costume storage at the Connecticut Historical Society with Lynne Bassett, Costume Specialist at CHS. Karen Hudson, Collections Manager at CHS, gave participants a first-hand look at the CHS database for costume and textiles, The Museum System.
The afternoon lectures juxtaposed the technological needs of both big and small institutions. Barbara Broudo and Adrienne Saint-Pierre combined forces to present on technological solutions for small museums, including the databases PastPerfect and File Maker Pro. The final lecture of the day was given by Becky Fifield on the digital documentation project currently underway at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Ms. Fifield gave participants a step-by-step overview of the work needed to digitally photograph the costume and textile collection at the museum.


Browser’s Corner

Incidentals seen, heard, discussed, read or read about…miscellaneous books, TV, movies, etc…by Jacqueline Field

Jenny Balfour-Paul, Indigo, British Museum Press. This wonderful, highly informative, and very readable book traces the history of the plant, trade in indigo, and the business and “art” of indigo across the globe from antiquity to modern times. Soft back, large scale (11 x 8 ½”), with numerous beautifully colored illustrations of ethnic textiles and garments. Would be a much-appreciated present for a friend interested in textiles (or a useful treat for yourself!).

Robert Chenciner, Madder Red: A History of Luxury and Trade, Curzon Press. Packed with information about the plant, its primary locales, the history and the development of madder red dyes. The major focus is on Russia and Caucasus. Small balck and white illustrations, maps, and diagrams- also appendices with some trade statistics, notes, and a bibliography. A book to dip into-a reference source-very dense-a compendium of details. Hardback.

Jane Farrell-Beck and Colleen Gau, Uplift: The Bra in America, University of Pennsylvania Press. There are 51 black and white illustrations in this very useful addition to the history of lingerie/underwear.

Gosford Park. While it is impossible to follow what is going on in this movie, it is not unpleasant to spend time enjoying the 1930s clothing-from the cook’s and the maid’s outfits, to the men’s tweedy weekend shooting gear, to the women’s slinky evening gowns.

BROWSER’S CORNER welcomes contributions. Email your input to



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