Archive for June, 2009

Chic Chicago

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Chicago and see the ‘Chic Chicago’ exhibition at the Chicago History Museum. My friend, who went with me, teaches fashion history. We try to make it to as many good clothing and fashion exhibits as possible. Seattle, sadly, is not a good venue for fashion history. So when we travel, we try to see as many displays as we can.

‘Chic Chicago’ was originally staged at the Fashion Institute Technology in New York. It will end it’s run in Chicago on July 26, 2009.The focus of the exhibit is couture fashion owned and worn byfamous and influential Chicago women. The earliest piece is an evening gown – attributed to Worth – from 1861. And it continues through present day with a gown donated by Oprah Winfrey. These are exceptional pieces – some familiar to the fashion historian – such as the Paul Poiret “Sorbet” gown and a Schiaparelli evening suit. Some, are less familiar designers, and what a treat it is to see their work!

Just as interesting as the fashions are the women who wore them. You get to know a bit about these ladies and their lives and how they were important to Chicago – and how important Chicago is to the rest of the world. It truly is more than the ’Second City’.

As an extra treat, there was a display of Bertha Honore’ Palmer’s personal wardrobe. And as we were staying at the Palmer House Hotel ( a wedding gift to Bertha from her husband, Potter) – we learned a lot about this fascinating and influential woman. I can’t do credit to her story here, but I encourage you to look her up – we tend to brush off the fashionable women of the Edwardian Era – but Bertha Palmer took every ball and ran with it – from the Woman’s pavilion at the world’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, to her patronage of Oscar Wild in her London salon, to her real estate developments in Sarasota Florida, this was a woman of power and style. (and she did most of it in a corset… sorry I had to get corsets in there somewhere! I always flinch when I hear ‘oh I could never do that in a corset!’ – well maybe they couldn’t but most women did – for five hundred years – and did it well. )

It would be interesting to compare the lives of Bertha Palmer and Oprah Winfrey. I’m sure someone must have done this and found many interesting similarities.

I recommend the accompanying book – Chic Chicago Couture Treasures From the Chicago History Museum by Timothy A. Long and Dr. Valerie Steele – for the fabulous pictures and thumbnail biographies of both the designers and the owners of the fashions. Also, Bertha Honore’ Palmer by Timothy A. Long.

Fresh New Corsets!

Monday, June 1st, 2009

So the great spirits of the blog tell me that when I don’t have much of anything new to say I can post new corset photos – here are two recent creations both done with beaded and embroidered lace overlays – they are so pretty done that way!

Red beaded laceSilver Beaded lace