Although we had originally intended to keep the FHM gallery at Southworks until at least next summer we have decided now to close at the end of this month. The response to our ‘pop-up’ museum has been exceptional. We have had over 7,000 visitors in four months, and that is with a zero dollar advertising budget and no school programs in place. All our promotion has happened through local media, museum and social networking, and word of mouth!
We were about to launch a membership program, as well as school and lecture programs, when we recognized that we first needed to find a site that is better suited for a museum environment. Although we love the architecture of Southworks it has many issues and is not a suitable space for us. While we look for a new location in the new year we will be working on “Street Style” an exhibition we are creating with the Waterloo Region Museum on the relationship between architecture and dress. This exhibition will be opening at the end of May 2014 at the Waterloo Region Museum. Stay tuned for more information about the museum in upcoming months!
I am not a fan of re-animating dead celebrities to sell product, however, Marilyn Monroe stars in what I think is this year’s best fashion-related commercial. Chanel very tastefully used Monroe’s images and an historic recording to promote their company’s famous perfume in this advertisment:
Even though I never met Doris Langley Moore and only know a little about her, she has been an inspiration to me.
Born in 1902 and educated in classical languages, Moore wrote several books including a biography of Lord Byron, an etiquette book for society hostesses, and a tongue-in-cheek self-help book called The Technique of the Love Affair – a work Dorothy Parker reviewed in the New Yorker for having “…considerable sense. If only it had been placed in my hands years ago, maybe I could have been successful instead of just successive.”
Moore was also one of the fashion historian pioneers, along with Anne Buck, James Laver and C. Willett Cunnington, who transformed historical fashion research into a reputable field of study. Moore, like many fashion historians, began as a collector, filling her house in London until she had to move to a small flat nearby.
With the opening of the Gallery of Costume in Manchester in 1947 (the first museum in the UK dedicated solely to the history of dress) Moore sought to establish a similar museum using her own collection. The Queen Mother was a fan of Moore’s work and with her influence, Moore established exhibitions at Eridge Castle in Kent and the Royal Pavillion in Brighton. In 1956 Moore worked with the BBC to create a series of colour films about the history of fashion, showing the clothes on models to demonstrate how the historic dresses were worn and moved.
Although no reputable museum today would consider using their collection in such a manner, these films are worthy documents. I did fashion shows for twenty years, and although the clothes I used in the shows were never from my ‘A-list’ collection and I had very few cases of damage (popped hooks and eyes mostly), I didn’t want the Fashion History Museum to get the reputation for being a giant tickle trunk. Now I am keen in creating a fashion show of forgeries – copies of period dress that are so good they would fool the best expert!
As for Moore’s collection, it was eventually donated to the City of Bath and was opened in the Bath Assembly Rooms in 1963. The Bath Costume Museum renamed itself the Fashion Museum in 2007. Here are the six films (shown in two parts each) created by Moore and released in 1957.
As necessity is the mother of invention, the Fashion History Museum has created a tiny-sized mannequin for all those impossibly small-sized dresses from the 19th century, as well as more modern Junior Miss (Adolescent) sized dresses. The form is based on a vintage dress form in the Guelph Civic Museum collection. We call our mannequin ‘Midinette’ after the French couture seamstresses of Paris.
Cast in a hard, but lightweight resin compound, Midinette measures: Bust 28 inches (71 cm), Waist 19 1/2 inches (46.5 cm), Hips 30 inches (76 cm). The form can be purchased with or without jointed arms. The arms can be removed, as can each section of the arm – hands, forearms, and upper arms, for different sleeve lengths.
Each mannequin is crafted upon order and may take a few weeks for delivery, depending upon the manufacturer’s work load. To order mannequin without arms ($500 Canadian each); with arms ($600 Canadian each) email firstname.lastname@example.org
Trudy Shulz, who is a volunteer at the museum, is also a phenomenal potter. She has created an exclusive line of fashion-inspired white glazed pottery just for the museum, including zipper and button decorated mugs, vases, and jewellery. Each piece is hand made and now available at the museum gift shop as well as through the Fashion History Museum Etsy shop. Here are some examples:
A few years ago I bought this unlabelled silk dress and coat set for a reasonable price off eBay. The dressmaker-made suit wasn’t getting much attention in the auction, not surprising without a designer or store label, but there was a story in the description that caught my eye.
This dress and coat set had belonged to the vendor’s grandmother who was staying at the Texas Hotel in Fort Worth, Texas on November 22, 1963. She had been wearing the suit that morning when she met and shook President Kennedy’s hand as he left the hotel for Dallas. She kept the suit for the rest of her life as a memento of that meeting.
In 1940 the top selling brand of health-footwear was Lockewedge, named for a country doctor from Williamsburg, Ontario. Mahlon Locke was born on February 14, 1880 in Dixon’s Corners, Ontario. He studied medicine at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario and finished his education in Edinburgh, Scotland, returning to Canada as a doctor licensed by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons.
In 1908 he began his medical practice as a general practitioner in Williamsburg, Ontario. The following year he became interested in foot manipulation as a method for treating arthritis. Combined with experimental orthotic appliances he called ‘cookies’, Locke slowly gained a reputation for successfully treating a number of foot-related ailments.
By the late 1920s Dr. Locke was becoming famous, even though his work was met with skepticism and even hostility by some in the medical community who felt his foot treatments were akin to faith healing. However, shortly after he treated American novelist Rex Beach for fallen arches in 1932, articles about Dr. Locke began to appear in magazines like Time and Cosmopolitan. Dr. Locke was soon overwhelmed with patients seeking his services. Alongside the bending and twisting of the foot and toes, his one dollar per visit treatments included advice on taking exercise, wearing properly fitted shoes with orthotic supports, and prescriptions for associated ailments, such as hypothyroidism.
Advertisement for Dr. Locke shoes, 1937
By 1934 shoes were being sold with Dr. Locke’s testifying signature on the sole. Sources disagree as to whether the shoes were designed by Locke or just approved for sale by him. The ‘Lockewedge’ orthopedic shoe was made by The Perth Shoe Company in Canada, but different companies were licensed to make and sell the shoes in the U.S.
Dr. Locke died in early 1942 from pneumonia although his shoe brand existed into the late 1950s when Lockewedge and similar styles by other manufacturers had beecome known as ‘granny’ shoes. Dr. Locke himself was largely forgotten, although he is remembered by some in the medical community as a pioneer in the field of reflexology.