Remember the Mon. Vignon garland dress that everyone liked so much as a Rate the Dress? Well, it turns out there is another Mon. Vignon dress on display this summer in ‘Tattered and Torn, On the Road to Deaccession” on display on Governor’s Island in New York, every Saturday and Sunday from now until September.
The display has been curated by Empire Historic Arts, and shows gowns that would never usually be seen in a museum display: gorgeous gowns that have been well used, and well worn, gowns that show both the exquisite workmanship that has been put into them, and the time since that work was done.
EHA aims to make their exhibitions as entertaining as they are education, and to present aspects of the museum experience that aren’t usually put on display. As someone who worked in museums, and knows that every exhibition has a backstory that is is every bit as interesting as the one you see on the surface, I heartily approve.
In this vein, Tattered and Torn presents a tale that isn’t often told in museums. The tale of garments that are in terrible condition. Fabulous pieces that were just worn one too many times, or stored badly, and now show the marks of the wear and neglect. Many museums would deaccession these items, or leave them forever in storage, accessible only to the determined costume historian. With this exhibition the items come to life. It’s a fascinating, and fantastic, idea for an exhibition. For me, as interesting and wonderful as a perfectly preserved gown is, the story behind a gown’s wear, and behind how museums choose, present, conserve and display gowns, is just as compelling.
We know words like bergere and bustle, cartridge pleats and corsages, but what about accretions and friable? Have you thought about why the gorgeous wedding gown above is so threadbare in particular areas, but not in others? And is the wedding gown really less beautiful, and interesting, and worthy of our attention, because it is threadbare?
Oh, how I wish I could be in New York this summer! The gowns look amazing, and (best of all) the curators have indicated that they would be willing to let very interested and enthusiastic costume aficionados inspect the garments up close, both outside and inside.
Definitely worth a visit if you can possibly make it! And if you do, and especially if you are able to look at garments up close, and at their interiors, please, please, pretty please take lots and lots of photos and show them!
What: Tattered and Torn, On the Road to Deaccession
When: Sat & Sun, June -Sept 2012
Where: Governor’s Island, New York