Cleveland Museum of Art

A quick trip to Chicago this past week took us home via Cleveland. Our trip to Cleveland this past February was a disaster because all the museums were closed for the polar vortex. This was Cleveland’s last chance… Fortunately, we enjoyed the trip this time and although we only had enough time to visit one museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art was worth the trip. The medieval and religious statuary (Buddhist et al) was particularly impressive. Kenn took a few hundred photos – here are some of the fashion and textile highlights:

The woman’s portrait from 1619 and the man’s portrait from 1610-15 were both impressive for the details in the clothing. The feathered cape was displayed amongst a selection of Native American pieces with a discussion over whether it is an indigenous or fashion piece. As the feathers were swansdown, peacock and quail, I favour a European origin. The medieval girdle was longer but the closeup shows the details — I have never seen an actual example before. The Chinese Buddhist robe was made up from many patches (a sign of humility), and the upper left corner has the Buddhas sewn upside down because when it is draped over the shoulder, they will appear right side up. The painting of the black man listening to white musicians is allegorical about racial segregation, but from a clothing perspective I thought it was interesting he is shown wearing overalls which made me wonder when overalls were introduced as a labourer’s garment.

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.
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