The Little Black Dress Adventure

I love cake but I have a visceral connection to fabric. I fell in love with it so long ago that I can’t pinpoint when it happened. I cannot remember it not being there. I remember clearly making my first Little Black Dress (double velvet off the shoulder softer than kittens and very fitted).

I’m heading into dangerous waters with the Costume Museum but I cannot resist because of all of the fabric that they’re hiding away in cold dark rooms for its own safety. I can hear the silk whispering to me, the consonants of corduroy and the full glottal stop of canvas.

I was invited to assist with the preparations for an exhibit. I would have fetched water and manned a clipboard and been thrilled to look but instead… White gloves on, I open flat boxes, fold back layers of acid free paper. It doesn’t smell dusty or musty, it smells like clean laundry, like someone folded it into a drawer a century ago and I’ve pulled it out now.

In 1927, the acid etching on the sheer chiffon circled the hips of a flapper. She would have drawn some second looks with the nude lining.

Much more modest in 1922, almost Edwardian. Beautiful jet beads are hidden in the skirt, little sparkles.

This would be for a winter event with sequins and fur. 1909 was a happening year if the flashes of fuchsia are any indication.

These clothes once held warm and vital bodies. These garments took them to banquets and dances and parties. These dresses  were shown off and admired and cherished. And this fabric survived for me to cherish and admire again.

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