'Dressed for History: Why Costume Collections Matter' opens at the Museum of Vancouver

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'Dressed for History: Why Costume Collections Matter' opens at the Museum of Vancouver
Evening Dress, c. 1830–1835. Photo: Tanya Goehring and Museum of Vancouver.



VANCOUVER.- The Museum of Vancouver presents Dressed for History: Why Costume Collections Matter, a new feature exhibition opening to the public March 16, 2023.

Clothing is the most personal of artefacts. It reveals so much about who we are, what we do and what we value. Clothing conveys information about occupation, social and economic status, gender and cultural identity and political and religious affiliation.
Clothing not only expresses aspects of a wearer’s identity, but it also reveals much about the larger context of production. As products of available raw materials, textile technologies, designs and styles, what we wear connects us to local and global stories of resource extraction, trade, labour and technology.

Four remarkable local collectors have recognized the importance of preserving costumes to document the past and inspire our present and future. Ivan Sayers, Claus Jahnke, Melanie Talkington and the members of the BC Society for the Museum of Original Costume (SMOC) are fashion historians with significant collections that feature some of the rarest garments and fabrics in the world. The Museum of Vancouver has invited these collectors to share their deep knowledge of costume history by showcasing pieces from their collections.

The exhibition features 43 full costumes, 5 corsets, 31 pairs of shoes, 28 hats, 10 handbags, 8 fans, and undergarments too numerous to count. Representing close to 300 individual items!

Dressed for History: Why Costume Collections Matter makes the case that fashion, and costumes are significant and enduring expressions of personal identity and of political and social change. This exhibition confirms Vancouver as home to world-class costume interpreters, collectors and historians.

“Dressed for History is one of the most comprehensive exhibitions of women’s fashions from the mid-18th century to the modern day ever produced in Western Canada. Not only are the garments beautiful and beautifully displayed, but the exhibition alludes to the political, social and economic influences that caused fashions to change. This is a special opportunity to see these artefacts which are normally hidden away in trunks and cases and rarely see the light of day.” -Ivan Sayers, Guest Curator and Fashion Historian.

"This exhibition is a window into the richness of costume collections living in our community. We hope Dressed For History will delight visitors and inspire them to think about the connections between historical and contemporary fashion. The project is an invitation for people to appreciate the ingenuity of designers and of those manufacturing clothing and to reconsider their own wardrobes in relation to larger global developments." -Viviane Gosselin, Director of Collections & Exhibitions, Curator of Contemporary Culture at MOV










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