About 16 years ago I met Sharon Elizabeth “Lizzie” Bramlett online through the Vintage Fashion Guild, and I have been an avid follower of her posts and blog, The Vintage Traveller, ever since. Kenn and I were especially delighted to meet up with her in person for the first time last week on our quick trip down south to Asheville, North Carolina, and Tennessee, where we installed our Lucile dress at the Titanic Museum.
After meeting at a restaurant for lunch we followed her to where she stores her collection — a ‘darling’ duplex cottage built in 1903 (darling is not a word I generally use, but there is no other word for the quaint southern charm of this little white wooden house.)
Upstairs, the racks are filled to capacity with riding habits, bicycling skirts, snappy suits and coats and sporty dresses; boxes are packed with woollen bathing suits and accessories. She has assembled a tight collection of garments and accessories ranging from couture pieces to a selection of sportswear, both active and spectator, dating mostly from the 1870s to the 1970s. She is not apologetic for collecting what she likes – decorative hat boxes and hangers, 1920s/30s ensembles, disposition-printed 1950s skirts, and at least one example from couturiers and designers whose work she admires: Claire McCardell, Bonnie Cashin, Chanel…
Lizzie is a curator without a museum – her collection is meticulously tagged, bagged, photographed and recorded, with everything identified chronologically in a series of catalogues. Her memory snaps to attention when asked where something was found — a flea market in Savannah, eBay, the local thrift store… She remembers each piece like she acquired it yesterday.
Here, hanging on her racks and tucked away in boxes is a carefully curated exhibition that needs to be seen, and what better way than through a museum exhibition… hmm, sounds like an idea for the FHM!