Exhibit on women’s fashion spans nearly 200 years
DARIEN — History and fashion have always been of great interest to Babs White, the 92-year-old curator at the Darien Historical Society.
In the seventh show she has curated at the society, the Smith College art history major demonstrates her breadth of knowledge on women’s fashion spanning from 1740 to 1930 in the “Treasures of the Costume Collection” exhibit.
“Just look at the attention to detail,” White, a former Darien resident who now lives in New Canaan, said as she analyzed the hand-woven embroidered panels of a white, 19th century dress.
White and the Costume Committee at the society, which includes Lynn Sheppart, Cyndy Stamm, Cyndi Ryan and Ulla Kremer, organized the exhibit, which opens Friday.
To register for the champagne opening reception or to sponsor the exhibit, visit www.darienhistorical.org
“This exhibit highlights treasures of our costume collection. These are dresses that have special details, wonderful craftsmanship, special meanings,” Kremer said. “Just beautiful things.”
About 30 dresses are on display, worn by mannequins in various postures, demonstrating the flexibility of early 20th century dresses or the tight fit of corsets worn by women in the 18th century.
Styles range from English and American to a Chinese silk dress with an intricate embroidery within the folds of its sleeves.
These treasures were once the property of Darien residents: All the dresses in the exhibit have been donated.
White said the majority of them were kept in good condition for decades, if not centuries, and the society has maintained their quality since being donated.
“We keep the dresses upstairs and we have archival rules. We have five racks where they hang and are always covered,” said White, who has been at the Society for 48 years.
However, a few have lost small parts due to the weight of the material with which they were made, according to White.
“They used to sometimes go in a box where we used acid-free paper, and the box would be acid-free lined, as well. We only do that now if they have to go in a box,” White said.
Though the exhibit required months of planning and special attention to detail, White continues to take pleasure in her work, appreciating each item as she passes by it.
“We’ve had so many different and interesting exhibits. I can’t wait for people to come and check it out,” she said.
The exhibit will be on display Friday through Sept. 19. A champagne reception will take place Friday at 6:30 p.m. at a cost of $50 for members and $65 for nonmembers. A Ladies’ Luncheon with the curator will take place May 2 and 10, both at 11:30 a.m. Luncheon tickets are $25 for members, $35 for nonmembers.