A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of going to Nashville’s own Frist Center for the Visual Arts with a friend of mine. Being the girly girls that we are, we simply couldn’t pass up the current exhibit: The Golden Age of Couture. The following paragraphs are a partial description from the Frist website.
The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947–1957 is an exhibition that transports visitors to the most glamorous fashion houses of Paris and London in the years after WWII. This exhibition was organized by the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) in London, which possesses one of the finest costume collections in the world. Following record breaking attendance at its launch in London and its subsequent presentations in Australia, Hong Kong and Canada, The Golden Age of Couture continues its international tour at the Frist Center, the exhibition’s only venue in the United States, before traveling to Museums Sheffield in 2011.
The exhibition celebrates an important decade in fashion history that began with the launch of Christian Dior’s famous New Look in 1947 and ended with his death in 1957. The romantic postwar silhouette pioneered by Dior scandalized and delighted the public, and ushered in a period of remarkable creativity. Dior himself called it a “golden age” for haute couture. He and his contemporaries set a standard for impeccable workmanship and design that has rarely been surpassed since.
As a girl who is fascinated with both fashion and history, this exhibit was bliss. There were sections for both London and Paris, descriptions and displays on each stage of the process of making the dresses, video footage of fittings and fashion shows, along with examples of outfits for every occasion, drawings and sketches, every accessory imaginable… even old-fashioned (and terribly uncomfortable looking) undergarments.
Things I gathered from this experience include:
handmade dresses take forever to make, but they are brilliantly intricate and solidly made;
women in the 40s and 50s were outrageously thin;
tons of fabric was used for each garment in those days(!);
women didn’t mind emphasis on hips, butt, or thighs;
I hate everything in my closet now;
and I wish that I was in Paris in 1955 so that I could wear dresses like that.
I would also settle for living some sort of glamorous lifestyle that involved going to cocktail parties and balls so that I could wear modern versions of these dresses. Here are a few of my absolute favorites:
The Frist is also currently hosting a small version of the Chihuly exhibit out at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. I haven’t been out to Cheekwood yet, but the Frist works were absolutely breathtaking. I’m saving that discussion, though, until after I experience “Chihuly Nights.” Google it in the meantime.