American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection

 

 

Worth Dress
Costume, ca. 1870. Charles Frederick Worth (British, 1825–1895) French. Silk, metallic, sequins. The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
 

A major exhibition celebrating the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection and the unique collection-sharing partnership with the Metropolitan Museum of Art will be presented at the Brooklyn Museum from May through August 1, 2010. American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection includes some 85 masterworks from the newly established Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and marks the first time in more than two decades that a large-scale survey drawn from the Brooklyn Museum’s pre-eminent collection is on public view.

 
Scaasi
Evening Ensemble, ca. 1958. Arnold Scaasi (American, born Canada, 1931) American, Silk. The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The exhibition is organized by Jan Glier Reeder, Consulting Curator for the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and coordinated by Kevin Stayton, Chief Curator of the Brooklyn Museum. It includes works that have never been on public view, as well as many that have not been displayed in more than 20 years. A simultaneous exhibition, American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity, the first at the Metropolitan Museum to be drawn from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection, is on view at the Met from May through August 15, 2010.

The Brooklyn exhibition presents works dating from the mid-19th century to the late 20th century, augmented by a selection of accessories, drawings, sketches, and other fashion-related materials. It includes creations that were milestones in the collection’s acquisition history, many of which were gifts from leaders of fashion and major donors to the Brooklyn Museum.

 
Victorian dress
Court Presentation Ensemble, 1896. Unknown French designer. Silk, metallic, cotton. The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
 
Paul Poiret

“This is truly a landmark moment in the history of museum exhibitions. It is at once a celebration of a unique collection-sharing program between Brooklyn and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a remarkable history of the Brooklyn collection that traces the evolution of fashion in America from its 19th-century European beginnings through the late 20th century,” comments Brooklyn Museum Director Arnold L. Lehman.

The exhibition documents the development of the Brooklyn Museum costume collection from its inception in the early 20th century to its function as a working design lab, and its development into one of the premier costume collections in the country. The story is one of great patrons of fashion — the Hewitt sisters, the women of the Prince family, Millicent Rogers, and Austine Hearst — and great designers.

left: Evening Dress, 1910. Paul Poiret (French 1879–1944). French. Silk, linen. The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

 
Charles Frederick Worth

The exhibition is organized in groups that represent the most important strengths of the collection. Featured are works by the first generation of American women designers such as Bonnie Cashin, Elizabeth Hawes, and Claire McCardell, as well as material created by Charles James, Norman Norell, Gilbert Adrian, and other important American designers. Also included are works by French designers who had an important influence on American women and fashion such as Charles Frederick Worth, Elsa Schiaparelli, Jeanne Lanvin, Jeanne Paquin, Madeleine Vionnet, and Christian Dior.

Evening Coat, ca. 1900. Charles Frederick Worth (British, 1825–1895). Jean-Philippe Worth (French, 1856–1926). French, The House of Worth. Silk, sequins. The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 
Schiaparelli  insect necklace
Necklace, autumn 1938. Jean Clement (French). For Elsa Schiaparelli. The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
 
Charles Frederick Worth<

The objects range from ball gowns to beachwear. Included are Schiaparelli’s Surrealist insect necklace, considered by experts to be one of the most important works in the collection; elaborate ballgowns and day wear by Charles James; evening ensembles by Charles Frederick Worth, Christian Dior, and Mainbocher; street-wear by mid-20th century designers including Vera Maxwell, Claire McCardell, and Elizabeth Hawes; a group of hats by legendary milliner Sally Victor; and dazzling evening wear by Norman Norell.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s concurrent exhibition, American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity is the first drawn from the newly established Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Met. Organized by Andrew Bolton, Curator of the Costume Institute, it explores developing perceptions of the modern American woman from 1890 to 1940 and how they affected the way in which American women are seen today. On view May through August 15, 2010, the exhibition is made possible by Gap with additional support from Condé Nast and will include works by Travis Banton, Gabrielle Chanel, Callot Soeurs, Elizabeth Hawes, Charles James, Jeanne Lanvin, Paul Poiret, Elsa Schiaparelli, Valentina, and Charles Frederick Worth, among others. A catalogue celebrating the Brooklyn Museum collection by Ms. Reeder accompanies the exhibitions.

Evening Ensemble, 1893. Charles Frederick Worth (British, 1825–1895). Jean-Philippe Worth (French, 1856–1926). French. Silk, linen, metallic thread. The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 
Jeanne Lanvin

The Brooklyn Museum’s landmark collection-sharing partnership with the Metropolitan Museum of Art went in to effect in January 2009. At that time Brooklyn’s renowned costume collection of 23,500 objects, acquired over the course of a century of collecting, was transferred to the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it is fully integrated into the Institute’s program of exhibitions, publications, and education initiatives and remains available for exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum.

Prior to the collection transfer, the Brooklyn Museum completed an intensive three-year assessment and photographic documentation of the entire costume collection that was supported by an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant of $3,925,000. Portions of the collection are now also available digitally through ARTstor, an online initiative created by the Mellon Foundation that provides access to art images and related data for scholarly and not-for-profit educational use.

Evening Dress, summer 1923. Jeanne Lanvin (French 1867–1946). Silk. The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Brooklyn Museum, housed in a 560,000-square-foot, Beaux-Arts building, is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the country. Web site: www.brooklynmuseum.org