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Fashion and Costume Display: Medieval Times through the 1920s

Special Collections items take the front stage in new exhibit.

Posted 03.22.16 by Meredith Moore

Fashions from "National Costumes" by E. Lepage-Medvey and "The Trend: an Authentic Exposition of the Style Trends..."

In celebration of MICA's Week of Fashion, April 2nd through 9th, and the two fashion shows that bookend the week: Hoi Polloi: An Experimental Fashion Event and DONROSE, the 23rd Annual Benefit Fashion Show, we have pulled out some treasures from Decker's special collections that showcase fashion and costumes from bygone days.

Cloth was a very expensive commodity in the Middle Ages and throughout the Enlightenment. The amount of time it took to make a garment with the intricate details and stylings of the day lead to a very hefty price tag that only the most affluent could afford. Fancy dress has always been a way of displaying wealth, but before the era of mass-produced, low-cost garments the disparity between upper and lower class was much more apparent and often the poor had little more than the clothing on their backs.

In modern times, with the arrival of mass production and low-cost fabric, fashion has been used as a means of expression of personal identity or to conform or fit into a community. Business workers who wear formal suits are showing themselves as a united team, working for the greater good of the business, whereas an artist dressing in an avant-garde, original, or exaggerated style is expressing their personal identity.

In the mid-1800's through mid-1900's many people were introduced to the latest fashion trends from the bigger metropolitan cities through periodicals and magazines that arrived with beautiful illustrations and sometimes contained patterns and fabric samples. Examples of these materials are on display here.

Feel free to peruse this exhibit and if you'd like to see anything closer, please ask a reference librarian or the circulation desk for assistance.

March 22 - April 9, 2016
Curated by Meredith Moore

Books on display are available for checkout at any time. Please ask a staff member at the circulation desk for assistance. Special Collections items, when on display, are available for viewing within the library.

Image Information:
This Page: Fashions from National Costumes by E. Lepage-Medvey (X GT 810 .L46 Cage) and The Trend: an Authentic Exposition of the Style Trends... (TREN SPR/SUM 1925 Cage)
Thumbnail: From L'Histoire du Costume Féminin Français de l'an 1037 à l'an 1870 (X GT 850 .G5 H5 Cage)
Photos by Meredith Moore

Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the nation. The College enrolls nearly 3,500 undergraduate, graduate and continuing studies students from 49 states and 65 countries in fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies degree and non-credit programs. With art and design programs ranked in the top ten by U.S. News and World Report, MICA is pioneering interdisciplinary approaches to innovation, research, and community and social engagement. Alumni and programming reach around the globe, even as MICA remains a cultural cornerstone in the Baltimore/Washington region, hosting hundreds of exhibitions and events annually by students, faculty and other established artists.

This page was last updated on 03/25/2016.