Sunday, December 2, 2012

Exhibit Design Phase

              I had a lot of fun creating this design. Since our exhibit is going to be in two phases, I choose to work with the theme of performance. For the first phase I used the theme of celebration/upscale event. Therefore,  I choose to pace the 3 wedding dresses in chronological order in the case. Then I placed the Honeymoon Trousseau Dress as the final piece in the case. On the opposite side of the room I placed the corset, which would of been worn by the bride under her wedding or Trousseau Dress. I also placed the Dolman because it was a high end jacket that would of been worn to a special event, potentially worn by a guest to a high end wedding. Therefore, the overall theme of the first phase was the celebration/upscale event.
The 2nd phase looks at the concept of performance through every day material. In the class it starts with the day dress, followed by the assembly dress, and then the 2 waistcoats. These were every day items that were expected to be worn in the day to day activities of citizens.
             My only issue I ran into was the card case, I had an issue connecting it to the upscale event phase and I do not consider the card case part of everyday experience because it is a mourning card case. It is an accessory that is expected at a normal funeral, thus aiding in the concept of normal performance wear. Which is why I placed the card case between the top hat and the shoes in a case on the opposing wall.

Phase 1
I am unable to upload Phase 1, however it is the same design set up!
In the case will be the 1837 Wedding Dress, 1845 Wedding Dress, 1850 Wedding Dress, and the 1888 Trousseau Dress
-On the opposing wall will be a case holding the corset ( the same position as the shoe case in phase 2)
-The Dolman Will also be a in case on the opposing wall ( same position as the top hat)
- The crazy quilt will be hung up between these two cases on the opposing wall.

Below is Phase 2
- In the case it will include; the Day Dress, Assemble Gown, 18th Cent. Waistcoat, 19th cent. waist coat
- The crazy quilt will be placed behind the 18th and 19th cent. waistcoat on the wall.
- On the opposing side there will be 3 cases holding the card case, shoes, and top hat.

Phase 2

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Touch of History

             Mark Smith's book Sensing the Past was our reading for this past week. In Sensing the Past, Smith examines how the senses such as; seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching are all important pieces of history that tend to be overlooked. Prior to reading this book, I never thought about how one can experience history through senses. However, Smith makes a point that the use of sense gives an important insight into history that can easily be overlooked. We tend to experience some of these senses collectively and naturally assume that they go hand in hand. One could argue that the sense of seeing and touching are very similar, however sight and touch are two different things. In Smith’s chapter about touching he speaks about the handshake and how important handshakes are in our society. There is a history being a strong handshake, however as our society has developed the concept of a strong handshake the sense of touch is used to develop this history.
             In addition to the chapter that delved into the sense of touch, I also found the chapter that examined the sense of hearing to be interesting. Smith stated that the sense of hearing was used to bridge together sight and other weaker sense such as taste. Naturally when we think about the concept of sound we think of some sort of noise. However, Smith states that during the slavery period many slaves used the concept of silence, no sound, as a way to stand their ground and disobey their masters. The slaves were able to control when and where they sang songs from their culture, it was one of the only things that the slaves were able to control. One could imagine how important the sense of sound was to the history of slavery in the country.
            The overall theme of Smith’s book was that we as the culture have the ability to look at history not only through the sense of sight, however we can use the sense of hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching to further our understanding of history.  This overall theme made me think about my Trousseau dress in a different light. How would the dress feel on the individuals skin? Was the silk smooth as we believe?  Would the dress naturally generate a certain noise as the young woman walked around in it? These are all questions that involve the concept of sense and would give us a more in depth understanding of our objects. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Legs vs. Arms? Is one more important than the other?

            Prosthetic Impulse was an enjoyable and interesting read that addressed the concept of prosthetics and there use in society. The book contained numerous articles that looked at different aspects associated with prosthetics however I believed that the overall theme from the book was how prosthetics were used to create a sense of normalcy for the individual that is missing a limb. While living out in California and training at the Olympic Training Center I was fortunate enough to get to know some of our Paralympic athletes. Some of these athletes are missing their limbs and use prosthetic's to run and compete. These athletes do not view themselves as abnormal and their prosthetic have made them become normal. I agree with the argument that prosthetic's allow an individual to live a normal day to day life by giving an individual the ability to walk or run. Additionally, I do not believe that these prosthetic make the individual any less human or un-natural they simply aid an individual in maintaining a normal life style.
            Out of all of the chapters, I found chapter 1 to be interesting because the author went through her own experience of having a prosthetic leg. Sobchack stated that within the world of arms and hands have been granted agency compared to legs. I found this to be very interesting observation because how our entertainment world grants agency one could state that it is just as normal to have a prosthetic arm or hand instead of a leg. The importance of agency has been created based on what society finds and values as more interesting and appealing. Does this mean that as a society we value our arms over our legs? I have difficulty understanding why we have placed value on a part of our body however we didn’t carry it over to another section of the body.  I feel that how we socially construct the thought of being disabled it what allows us to place value and agency on one part of the body over another. Does it come back to some level of sexual attraction/fetish that is associated with the prosthetic?
            Referencing back to my friends that live in California and are Paralympic athletes, these individuals felt that prosthetics had a negative connotation when our society places a negative connotation on them via through language. When we use phrases such as disabled or handicap, many individuals feel that they are not handicapped they are simply just missing a limb and the prosthetic is there in place for what naturally should be there. Unfortunately, I had difficulties relating the book to my article of clothing but none the less I found the book to be very interesting. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Jeans are everyone's best friend :)

Blue Jeans: The Art of The Ordinary written by Daniel Miller and Sophie Woodward was an ethnographic study on the journey of the blue jeans. I found Miller and Woodward’s approach to blue jeans to be interesting because Miller and Woodward argued that blue jeans have continued to be a part of our culture due to the aspects and feelings that have been associated with the jean pants, and argued that these thoughts and feelings associated with blue jeans is why we continue to see the blue jeans generation after generation.  I found this aspect of feelings that clothes give us to be interesting because at the beginning of class when I first saw my dress my first question was how could this be comfortable for a woman to wear? I believe that Miller and Woodward believed that blue jeans became a corner stone in fashion because of the comfortable feeling that was associated with the jeans. Earlier in the semester we spoke about fashion and how fashion was not associated with feelings such as being comfortable. However, Miller and Woodward make the argument that jeans became and held being popular because the jeans are comfortable which would make blue jeans truly extraordinary yet blue jeans themselves are ordinary and worn day to day which is why many have fallen in love with them. There are not many similarities that are associated with the book and my object, however I do believe that blue jeans are truly an iconic fashion symbol in our society thus doing an ethnographic study is valuable and interesting. Everyone has a favorite pair of jeans; male/female, old/young jeans can be found in generation after generation. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A picture is worth a thousand words- but we need to only use 50 :)

Object Exercise #4: Captions
Caption #1: Bustle Period Theme- Historical (Word Count: 85)
This 1888 Wedding Trousseau dress was a result of the Bustle Period which was a period of fashion that emphasized the curves of the female. Viewed as scandalous from those conservative and rooted in the past. This dress was a part of the 3rd phase which emphasized the posterior of the female yet it was not overly extravagant or large.  The dress kept it shape by the hoops and padding that was worn underneath which helped aid in giving shape to females who needed it.
    Phase 1                            Phase  2
 - Photos would not load on the blogger :(
Caption # 2:  Numerous Changes of Outfits (hinting at class) - Evening Dress (Word Count: 74)
This 1888 Wedding Trousseau dress was one that would have been worn in the afternoon. With the shorter sleeves and the cut of the dress lowering in the front, it was acceptable of women in this time to show more skin as the day went on. Thus, a female found herself changing into multiple different outfits through the day; starting with being covered up completely and finishing the day revealing cleavage, shoulders, and arms.
Caption # 3: What is Trousseau Dress? (Word Count: 75)
A Trousseau Dress (1888) was purchased for the bride to be worn during her honeymoon and newlywed phase. The newlywed was expected to where the Trousseau dress as a status symbol and it was tradition for her to wear the dress the first time she and her husband entertained guests in their new home. This Trousseau dress is lavished with lace and the owner traveled to Paris to have the dress made custom for her.

            Writing these captions was more difficult than I thought it would be. The issue that I ran into was attempting to get my point across in an effective and interesting manner however attempting to try to meet the word limit. The third caption theme which looked at the explanation of the dress is the one that I am leaning towards. I believe that it is important to understand what exactly a Trousseau dress is because we do not have this kind of fashion still present in our society. Our current understanding of a Trousseau dress is a wedding gown, which was not the case back in the late 19th century.  It is hard though for me to not look at the historical background of the bustle period as well and how the back of the dress was emphasized the 3rd bustle phase. However, I have realized that it will be difficult for the audience to understand the 3 phases when only the 3rd phase is being displayed. Therefore, I thought that I could provide a sketch for the progression of the phases to help the audience member understand the shift in fashion.  I attached some photos and I am sure I would have to discuss this idea with Clare if I choose to go in this direction of caption to complement the overall theme of the exhibit.
            Overall, I had fun being creative with 3 different captions. I believe that whatever theme I go with will be dependent upon the fact of the overall theme of the exhibit. The captions are meant to complement the overall theme and goal of the exhibit. Once we speak with Clare and have a better understanding with the direction Clare is going in, which will allow all of us to fine tune our captions so that there is an underlying connecting theme found in all of our captions. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

History of Object #3 Exercise

Object Exercise #3
            This object exercise dealt with the historical context of the article. I was unfortunately unable to get in contact with Clare to find out about the donor card which I was unable to learn more about during my first meeting with the object due to time constraint.  Yet, I was still able to develop a great of information about the family the dress belonged to as well as the history of the Trousseau dress in the late 19th century.  Therefore, my object exercise #3 will begin with my exploration of the Creese Family and The Cresse Student Center at Drexel University and will finish with exploration of the 2nd bustle period which is the period Trousseau dress designed from.
            The donor of my object was Mrs. James Creese who lived in Philadelphia. Mrs. James Creese is the wife of former Drexel University President Mr. James Creese. Therefore I choose to take the subway over to Drexel University because the dress is directly linked to Drexel University. Therefore James Creese was the 6th university president at Drexel University. James served from as the university president from 1945 to 1963. James had a very extensive educational background; he was born in 1896 in Pittsburg, PA. James ended up attending Princeton University in 1914 and graduated in 1918. While at Princeton University, James focused his studies on humanities and poetry. An important historical note to mention was that while James was at Princeton World War I was occurring and James enlisted in the military and served as a second lieutenant in the artillery division. Following the war James returned to Princeton and completed his Master’s work and graduated with a Master’s degree in 1920. Following his Master’s degree Creese became the president of the American-Scandinavian Foundation where Creese spent most of his time traveling in Sweden. While in Sweden, Creese married a fellow Pennsylvanian native Margaret Villiers Morton in 1925. In 1928 Creese was name Vice-President and Treasurer of Steven’s Institute of Technology in New Jersey.  While the Vice-President at Steven’s Institute Creese focused on developing funding and public relations with the community.
            Following his time at Steven’s Institute Creese became the President at Drexel Institute, which is now known as Drexel University, in 1945. World War II was coming to an end and many colleges and universities begun to see an increase in student attendance. Creese saw the need to immediately update the facilities at Drexel as many universities in the country saw the demand for as well.  Creese desired to develop Drexel into an institute that mimicked MIT however it also offered a strong humanities department as well, which I am sure was influenced by his humanities background from Princeton. Creese served as the president from 1945 to 1963. While as president Creese expanded the undergraduate studies at Drexel and encouraged female enrollment to the University.   Creese also offered an evening school at Drexel University which allowed many working individuals to complete a degree and take advantage of the education surge that was occurring in the United States. Creese was popular among the students at Drexel because many students believed that Creese made many positive contributions and developments to Drexel that were geared to improve the experience and life of the students at Drexel University. The picture above is Creese at the ceremony of the student center being built on Drexel’s campus. An interesting connection that I found between Creese and I was that from 1956-1959 Creese was a member of the Board of Trustee of the Baldwin School. I attended the Baldwin school from Kindergarten through 5th grade. The Baldwin School is an elite private school for girls and is well known in the area. This supports Creese efforts that he made while at Drexel with promoting and encouraging education for females.
            I believe that my Trousseau dress would either worn by either James or Margaret mother. The timeline of the dress and age of James would suggest and support the thought that the dress was worn by either one of their parents. The dress was donated in 1957 and was dated to be from 1888. With the dress being dated back to 1888, means that the dress is from the 3rd and final Bustle period. The third bustle period used wiring, padding, or a combination of both to emphasis the posterior of the woman. The first bustle period emphasized extremely large padding on the posterior, the 2nd bustle period went in the opposite direction and was more tightly fitted on the women’s hips and had little padding on the back side, and the third and final bustle period had the posterior padding yet it was not as extreme and wide.  My Trousseau dress accurately describes and fights the description of the third bustle period, which is another clue supporting that this dress was worn by either James or Margaret’s mother.  On the posterior side of the dress there is a beautiful silk cream ribbon as well as fabric that are meant to be filled in with the posterior padding that would be placed in the women’s underskirt.
            From my research I have learned that a Trousseau dress was purchased and used as a honeymoon and newlywed out. The dress was a status symbol to show society that the young women just married and is now settling into their new place. Research stated that it was normal for the young women to wear their Trousseau dress during their first hosting event in their new home. The Trousseau dress that I was assigned to was a high end dress, which was represented by the large amount of manufactured lace and silk that was present on the dress. The dress also had a ribbon label on the inside of the top of the dress with the designer’s name on “Mme. Barbelet, Paris”.   I researched the Mme. Barbelet however I was unable to find any information on the designer, which leads me to believe that this was not a mass produce dress. The female that bought this dress traveled to Paris and had the dress made specifically for her, which reflects that the woman belonged to a very affluent family.
            My final important aspect of the dress is that the Trousseau dress I have been assigned was one that would have been worn in the afternoon. As we learned from Perrot, the way women dress differed throughout the day. It was considered to be inappropriate if a woman was showing cleavage and her arm during the morning portion of the day. As the day would continue it was acceptable for women to have the cut of their dress begin to get lower and reveal more cleavage and are allowed to shorten their sleeves and show more of their forearm. The top front of my dress has a cut of a V and revealed more cleavage of the woman. Also the sleeves of the dress were ¾ sleeves and had lace attached to the bottom of it.
            In conclusion, I am still very excited to have my Trousseau dress. I am still looking forward to read the donor card that came along with my dress. However, with the information that I have found about the Creese family, the family that donated this dress was an important and well-loved educator in the Drexel Family.  Creese was responsible for the development of Drexel post World War II and help Drexel become one of the strongest schools in the Mid-Atlantic region. I believe that the information that I will learn from the donor card will only allow add to the information about the family and will hopefully give me a better idea of the Creese family and which side of the family the dress belonged to. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hurricanes and Clothes

            In this week’s blog I choose to focus the concept of clothing as a language as well as the concept of fashion as a commodity. The piece written by McCraken gave great insight about clothing and how it is a form of language which I felt had some interesting points that correlated with my trousseau dress. Also the Stallybrass article that looked at fashion and its relationship to the capitalist society spoke about fashion as a commodity and fetish which also is related to the trousseau dress.
            The McCraken article was interesting because it touched upon many numerous points however the overall theme of clothing as a form of language and how clothing communicates the language and culture of the time. McCraken states that clothing can be used as a means to study the cultural principles at the time. When looking at my trousseau dress I believe that the dress represents the etiquette that was expected from young women in the 19th century following their wedding. The Trousseau dress was worn by women during the honeymoon and newlywed phase of the marriage. The women were expected to have the dress and in my research I found that the women were expected to wear the trousseau dress during their first hosting event in their new home. This cultural piece demonstrates how much emphasis was placed on the etiquette associated with the bride and what was expected of her after the wedding.
            The Stallybrass article hint many great points however a theme that I believed was the most important was that fashion was a commodity in culture. We see that this is present in our culture today in which there are tons of fashion shows, fashion magazines, and fashion districts all that are specifically designed to share the fashion culture with others. I believe that my trousseau dress was viewed as a commodity and many believed that in order to step out correctly in society following your marriage the woman needs to be in her trousseau dress. Fashion was a commodity in the 19th century because it was a visual classification of social class and construction. The theme of Stallybrass’s article was that fashion is a commodity in culture and thus we should continue to pay attention to fashion in the past because they can teach us many lessons such as what was important at that moment in time. 

- Hope everyone is safe during the storm!