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Dressing the Best: Ann Lowe Lecture in Tampa February 4th

You may have guessed that talking about Ann Lowe is one of my favorite things to do. This is why I am SO excited to have a lecture at the Henry B. Plant Museum on my schedule this winter! The Plant Museum is truly a gem in Tampa because of their commitment to recording the early history of the area when the citrus and tobacco industries were such an influence. Local wealth was built upon success in those industries and wealthy families in Tampa helped to catapult Ann Lowe to her impressive professional success.

The main key to this success? Gasparilla. I’ve talked about Gasparilla here quite a bit, and the Plant Museum took on an incredible conservation project to preserve their Ann Lowe Gasparilla dresses.

One dress from 1926 is the earliest example in a museum collection!

My first trip to the Plant museum was in 2011, when they were so kind to say yes when this grad student asked to visit their dresses. It is such an honor to return as a professional and give a talk.

If you are in the Tampa area it is on February 4th.  We’d be thrilled to see you there!


Come to Pittsburgh and see the Iris Van Herpen Show at CMOA!

As the Curatorial Assistant of Decorative Arts and Design at the Carnegie Museum of Art, I am a LITTLE bit biased about the fabulous Iris Van Herpen: Transforming Fashion exhibit that opened last week. It’s a touring show, co curated by the High Museum in Atlanta and the Groeninger Museum in Amsterdam. And also the first exhibit that I worked with from floorplans to actual installation. SO EXCITING!!! That dress above is 3D printed!

But not all of Iris’ dresses use computer technology. This one is painstakingly handmade with a reflective material.

There are 45 dresses and 8 pairs of shoes

I got to help set up the shoes!

I remember a time when I was a volunteer at the Smithsonian—working at the guest services desk of the Natural History Museum and hoping that someday I could figure out how to work in curatorial in a museum–this was a couple of years before I entered the graduate program at the Smithsonian that would help me to do just that! My 1st job in the field was a cataloguing job at Winterthur Museum, so I was a very lucky girl because I got to handle objects and work directly with objects all day for three years.  Loved it! But I was missing experience with the other aspects of curatorial work, so that was one of the exciting parts of my job at the Carnegie Museum of Art.

Anyway, enough about me! Back to Iris. Transforming Fashion is up until May 1st and it’s amazing.

Hidden Fashion History??

Welcome to Hidden Fashion History! I am a textile and fashion historian and my biggest hope for this site will be to create a fun and informative archive of little known tidbits about all things fashion. We’ll share the stories of successful fashion designers who virtually disappeared from history and post odd and interesting tools and machines used for sewing and textile production. Advertising and vintage fashion magazine clippings will be used to discuss the way fashion intersects with social history.There are so many interesting stories to dig into! Did you know that during the 1930s and 40s, the fabric of two chicken feed sacks provided enough cotton cloth to create a child’s dress?

Or that Lane Bryant began in the early 1900s as one of the earliest producers of “on the rack” maternity dresses?

Have you ever seen Jackie Kennedy’s 1953 wedding gown? Did you know that it was created by Ann Lowe? A highly regarded society designer who was also African American.  I’m also looking forward to sharing historical costume pieces and antique doll clothes that are in my own collection and also profiling some truly fabulous pieces from the collections of great museums around the world.

—Margaret Powell