Lengthy earlier than Brooklyn hipsters modeled LL Bean boots and Angela Adams baggage hung from the shoulders of individuals in Los Angeles, Mainers had a eager sense of vogue.
Within the 1870s, for instance, fashion-conscious Maine residents knew that the voluminous model of girls’s skirt generally known as “polonaise” was giving option to a a lot slimmer silhouette known as “cuirasse,” from the French phrase for means tight, like armor. When Hannah P. Adams of Belfast acquired her wedding ceremony trousseau across the time of this transformation in traits, she included a gown in a more recent model, together with a knee-length jacket known as basque.
“Mainers have at all times been in model, and that is one thing we see in our clothes assortment,” stated Jamie Kingman Rice, deputy director of the Maine Historic Society. “Due to ties to British delivery within the mid-19th century, folks in locations like Eastport and Belfast would have had entry to the most recent fashions and vogue concepts. However we see that individuals in additional rural areas had been additionally .”
The concept that Mainers, no less than some, have lengthy exhibited a aptitude for vogue is the topic of an exhibit on the Maine Historic Society in Portland known as “Northern Threads: Two Centuries of Gown on the Maine Historic Society “, with about 50 ensembles from 1780-1889, together with the Hannah P. Adams robe, on view by way of July 30. The society’s clothes assortment is so giant that the exhibition has been break up into two elements, with garments from 1890-1980 on view from August 12 to December 31.
The historic society can be at the moment house to 2 different displays that assist illustrate Mainers’ connections or obsessions with vogue over the previous 200 years. “Cosmopolitan Types of Mildred and Madeleine Burrage” focuses on two Maine sisters who had been artists and consists of drawings by Paris vogue designers within the 1920s and 1930s. It’s on view by way of September 24.
The opposite is “Representing Each Specific: John Martin’s 19th Century Style Illustrations,” which presents observations, opinions, and drawings on native vogue from a Bangor businessman’s diary within the latter half of the 19th century, on view till 6 of August.
On-line variations of all three displays can be found to view on the Maine Historic Society’s “present displays” web page.
Rice, lead curator of “Northern Threads,” had begun getting ready the exhibit for the state’s bicentennial in 2020, however the pandemic and different points delayed the exhibit. So now it is open throughout the historic society’s bicentennial yr, which is suitable, says Rice, as a result of it highlights a part of the society’s assortment of some three,000 clothes.
The “Northern Threads” present marks one of many few instances the historic society has displayed so many items of clothes, Rice stated, as clothes shows are labor-intensive. Many items are mild and fragile and have to be dealt with and displayed with care. As well as, the lighting have to be fastidiously organized in order to not injury the materials. Some items can’t be left within the mild and air for too lengthy.
Most of the garments come from household collections, donated to the historic society, whereas many got here to the historic society from the gathering of the previous Westbrook School in Portland (now a part of the College of New England), which had a curriculum of vogue. Some items that characterize the most recent fashions of the second come from households who lived in small, rural or distant locations, such because the small city of Alexander, on Route 9 close to Calais, or town of Waterford in Oxford County. Within the second a part of “Northern Threads,” there can be an ostrich-feather adorned wedding ceremony gown that was worn to a marriage on the distant island of Matinicus within the 1890s.
This primary a part of “Hilos del Norte” consists of Civil Struggle-era army attire and uniforms, boisterous attire, attire created from reused materials in a time when the fabric was not available, mourning fashions, and attire with the “gigot” or puffed sleeves well-liked within the 1830s.
One of many gigot-sleeved attire illustrates Rice’s view that the distant reaches of Maine have a conduit to international vogue. It’s a two-piece silk and satin weave ensemble, circa 1830, and belonged to the Leavitt household of Eastport. It comes with a small cape, known as a pereline, that matches over the gown. Darkish purple silk was costly in its day and was in all probability dyed with imported campeche wooden, earlier than the appearance of chemical dye.
Within the 1830s, the folks of Eastport would have been influenced of their fashions and tastes by the fixed stream of British ships bringing European items to the distant Maine seaport, Rice stated. The variety of British ships calling at Eastport elevated by 800 % within the early 1830s.
One other theme that may be discovered within the historic society’s clothes assortment is the creativity of Mainers, who typically purchased the most recent fashions however tailored them with their very own fingers and concepts, Rice stated. The gown belonging to Hannah Adams in Belfast, for instance, is labeled by a Boston clothes designer, WH Bigalow, 150 Warren Ave., Boston. However later, the gown was hand-embroidered with colourful floral designs, hinting at daisies, berries, cat’s tails, and poppies. A chenille fringe was additionally added.
There may be an space of the “Northern Threads” exhibit devoted to adaptive reuse. A really intelligent instance is a inexperienced, white and pink silk brocade gown worn by a member of the Jewett household at a Portland ball in 1825 in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette, a hero of the Revolutionary Struggle. The gown material dates to the late 1730s or early 1740s, and the gown was initially made within the 1770s. It was later altered and redesigned for the 1825 ball, however in a Colonial Revival model.
Another examples of Mainers’ personal artistic vogue variations can be seen partially two of “Northern Threads” when it opens in August. One is a ladies’s bomber jacket, assume Amelia Earhart, which was well-liked within the 1930s. It was made by a Maine girl who labored in a shoe manufacturing facility and had entry to leather-based.
Complementing the flashy fashions are some shocking private tales. Among the many varied army uniforms on show is Oliver Otis Howard’s gown uniform coat from Leeds, when he was a cadet on the US Navy Academy at West Level within the 1850s. Throughout the Civil Struggle, Howard he misplaced his proper arm on the Battle of Seven Pines in Virginia. After the conflict, he was commissioner of the US Freedmen’s Bureau and founding father of Howard College in Washington, DC, right this moment one of many best-known traditionally black universities within the nation.
The opposite two vogue displays now on the historic society additionally stem from private histories. Sisters Mildred Giddings Burrage (1890-1983) and Madeleine Burrage (1891-1976) got here from a Maine household that made their fortune in lumber within the Bangor space, finally settling in Wiscasset. Mildred studied and labored as an artist in France, the place she grew to become involved in high fashion. Madeleine grew to become a jewellery designer, and the 2 traveled extensively in Europe and South America, typically writing house concerning the fashions they noticed.
Amongst Mildred’s collected paperwork and writings are unique drawings and descriptions of gown designs from vogue homes in Paris within the 1920s and 1930s. The drawings had been despatched to potential purchasers within the days earlier than catalogs and web sites, stated Tilly Laskey, curator of the Maine Historic Society and the Burrage exhibit.
Thirty of those “line sheets” with gown designs are on show as a part of the present. Addresses and different info present they weren’t despatched on to Mildred, and it is unclear how she acquired them through the years, Laskey stated. Many of those drawings are in shade and include pictures of materials and shade swatches.
Laskey additionally curated “Representing Each Specific: John Martin’s 19th Century Style Illustrations.” Martin’s drawings are notably fascinating as a result of he was neither an artist nor a pupil of vogue. He was an accountant and service provider from Bangor who was a eager observer. His personal father had died when he was younger and she or he knew little or no about him. So he had a robust want to assist his youngsters study his instances and his experiences. He left behind a 650-page diary and several other albums of notes and sketches, created from the 1860s to the 1890s. He drew what he noticed and added his personal commentary.
Certainly one of his final drawings, “A Society Woman of 1889,” reveals a lady carrying a bustle gown, brightly coloured with orange, purple, purple, and inexperienced, and holding a parasol and a small purse. Within the description of her drawing, Martin calls the topic “a society woman of right this moment” and notes that whereas the fabric for the gown isn’t costly, “it reveals that the wearer is an individual of excellent style.” Ten of his doodles and illustrations are on show.
“He can get a little bit sarcastic about what folks put on and his descriptions are fairly humorous,” Laskey stated. “He was drawing these freehand and giving loads of details about what he noticed.”
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