September 30, 2002
CW bursting at the seams with blockbuster clothing exhibition
Colonial Williamsburg will model an extensive selection of its antique fashion finery beginning this fall in the blockbuster exhibition “The Language of Clothing.” The display, featuring more than 300 pieces of authentic clothing, accessories and dolls, will be open to the public at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, Oct. 26, 2002 through Oct. 26, 2003.
People of every era have used clothing not only to meet daily functional needs, but also to communicate concepts such as status, social standing and even current notions of propriety. Like letters or documents from the past, antique clothes tell stories about the people who originally made and wore them. How and when was the garment made, used or altered? How was the wearer’s body shaped? What styles did people consider beautiful or acceptable for a particular occasion? Are there hidden messages in the shape or style of the garment?
The display will be divided into individual themes including:
Highlights of “The Language of Clothing” will include:
An accompanying publication, "What Clothes Reveal: The Language of Clothing in Colonial America" by Linda Baumgarten, Colonial Williamsburg curator of textiles and costumes, is being published by Colonial Williamsburg and Yale University Press, and will be available in October 2002.
“The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has collected clothing since the early 1930s,” said Baumgarten, who is exhibition curator as well as author of the exhibition publication. “The antique costumes in its collection are an unsurpassed archive of aesthetic beauty and documentary information about people living in the 18th and early 19th centuries.”