Sunday, October 27, 2013

On this and that...

Dress Collection of the Lousiana State Museum
Photo by Ingrid Mida 2013
I don't usually ramble, but have not written on this blog in over two weeks. It feels like no time and a lifetime all in one. People often ask me how I get so much done, and yet I often wonder where does the time go?

If you missed it, there was an article written by Nathalie Atkinson of the National Post about my work in editing the Ryerson Fashion Research Collection called "Lanvin in the Library". My elderly mother, who was once a librarian, loved the title, and finally understood what it is that I do - to her, I'm like a librarian for old clothes! I've also had lots of questions about whether I ever try on clothes in the collection, and that is something that is strictly forbidden by International Committee of Museums Practice Guidelines. Doing so would be considered highly unethical. I cannot say that I haven't been tempted to do so - who can resist a Dior after all - but I must resist and I do. I've never, ever done so and shudder with horror and yell out "THAT IS NOT ALLOWED" when someone looks like they are going to....

I couldn't be more pleased with the coverage for the Collection. A very generous and kind donor (who prefers to remain anonymous) offered to cover the cost of the cataloguing software for the collection. This the first step in helping to ensure its longevity. Funding at the university is very, very tight, and since all fundraising efforts must be co-ordinated by the Development Office, technically I am not even allowed to ask for money.... But, I believe so very passionately in what I do and just love to help students, and hope and pray that a generous donor will step forward to help ensure this collection lives on.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Engaging Students with Objects

Black silk parasol with cream cordwork embroidery, c.1900-1910.
FRC 1989.02.001
The weather looks lovely in New Orleans for this coming week. I'll be flying down south on Tuesday afternoon to speak at the ITAA Conference on the topic of Engaging Students with Objects: Preliminary Experiments in Reviving a Dormant Fashion Research Collection.

Thanks to the support of Dr. Lu Ann Lafrenz,  a grant from the Learning & Teaching Office at Ryerson University, and the work of two very talented students - Jazmin Welch and Kate O'Reilly - (who worked together to photograph 160 garments, accessories and other artifacts that I selected for this project), I have lots of beautiful images to chose from to illustrate my talk.

Here is the abstract:

Balenciaga Evening Gown, c.1957-1962
FRC1992.01.019 A
Seeing a dress in a photo is a very different experience than feeling the weight of the fabric in hand, examining the details of cut, construction and embellishment, considering the relationship of the garment to the body or searching for evidence of how the garment was worn, used or altered over time. Study collections offer students the opportunity to engage with actual objects, offering physical specimens for design inspiration and material culture studies. Susan Pearce conveyed the narrative power of artifacts when she wrote: “Objects hang before the eyes of the imagination, continuously representing ourselves to ourselves and telling the stories of our lives in ways which would be impossible otherwise”(1992).

Monday, October 7, 2013

120 Years of French Lingerie at the Design Exchange

Our mothers used to spend a lot of time and money on lingerie and I think they were right. Real elegance is everywhere, especially in the things that don't show. 
Christian Dior 

19th century corset
Carolle Patrimony
Photo by Ingrid Mida 2013

Lingerie shapes a woman's body, creating curves or flattening them depending on the fashionable silhouette of the time. In the exhibit of French lingerie at the Design Exchange, curator Catherine Orman combed the archives of French lingerie manufacturers to create a display that traces the history of women's undergarments from the later part of the 19th century to the present day.