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Costume Theatre (installation)

DATES date unknown, 197s
  • April 17, 1972: Fashion Theater Premieres With Multi-Media
    Production “Changing Fashions, 1800 to 1970"

    With a vivid, theatrical presentation of fashions dating back to the 18th century, the new Costume Galleries of The Brooklyn Museum will open to the public on April 26, at 10:00 A.M. More than seven years in the planning and preparation, the innovative installation was arranged by J. Stewart Johnson, curator of Decorative Arts, and Elizabeth Ann Coleman, associate curator of Costumes and Textiles. Architect Paul Heyer, who also designed the recently opened Jan Martense Schenck House gallery, served as designer for the new galleries which complete the decorative arts floor of the Museum.

    The opening collection of gowns on view against a background of gleaming black, illustrate the permanence of classic design in the world of fashion. The empire waistline, the exaggerated shoulder, ascending and descending hemlines regularly recur as does the bared back and revealing decolleté.

    Indicative of the vastness of the Museum’s collection are two large storerooms of costumes, chronologically arranged on two levels, both of which are partially visible to the viewer. New exhibitions will be mounted from among these outstanding fashions of the past and present, whose designers include Fortuny, Dior, Norell, Oscar de la Renta, Balmain, Worth, Poiret, Balenciaga, Givenchy, Maxwell and Trigère.

    The small, completely carpeted Fashion Theater, makes its debut with a dazzling multi-media presentation, “Changing Fashions, 1800 to 1970.” Costumed mannequins on a moving belt, gracefully posed with an evocative piece of decor, illustrate the ever-changing flow of fashion, while overhead, a multi-media slide presentation of the personalities, architecture, furniture, and outstanding social and historical events of the time show the context in which the clothing was originally worn.

    A white, cotton evening dress (ca. 1820), decorated with puffs of sheer mull, faggoting, and lace insertions, and accessorized with a green embroidered cashmere shawl and lemon-yellow gloves and slippers is in beguiling contrast to a sleek ‘30’s version done in eggshell silk crepe with an uneven printed feather hemline in shaded grays, embellished by pearls and long white kid gloves.

    A private preview for designers and the fashion press will be held at the Costume Galleries (4th floor) on Monday evening, April 24, from 6:00 to 8:30 P.M.

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    Currently featured at The Brooklyn Museum is NORMAN ROCKWELL AND A CENTURY OF AMERICAN ILLUSTRATION which will run through May 14. More than 80 original paintings by America’s most popular illustrator and 123 works by the outstanding illustrators of the past 100 years are on view. Special hours for NORMAN ROCKWELL AND A CENTURY OF AMERICAN ILLUSTRATION only are: Monday & Tuesday from 1:00 P .M. to 9:00 P.M.; Wednesday - Saturday from 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.; and Sunday from 10:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1971 - 1988. 1972, 096-097 View Original 1 . View Original 2
Costume Theatre (installation)