I’ll Think About it Tomorrow

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One of the common things between art and fashion is that they both allow us to dream. The creator of a particular design or artwork offers you just the indication of a path to take, where it will really take you, is already the work of your own imagination. That’s precisely why I find the fashion exhibitions very inspiring: not only are they creating you in the most lively manner possible the atmosphere of a particular era or style, but they are also taking you on a journey that is for each and every visitor very personal.

When I went to see the exhibition „Poetry and Spleen. The Victorian Female Image and Fashion“ (Museum of Art, Kumu) from the collection of the legendary fashion historian, costume designer and collector Alexandre Vassiliev, I was already expecting to see something great: the embellished garments, luxurious fabrics and typical corsets and crinolines creating the known silhouettes of that era. Not only were my expectations exceeded, but I was actually taken back to my teenage years, as some of the ball gowns on display reminded me in an unmistakable manner the Southern Belle Scarlett O’Hara, whose spirit and beauty were unforgettably depicted by Vivien Leigh in the Oscar-winning movie „Gone with the Wind“. All of the sudden I was again in her world of elegant balls and cozy afternoons, while she was sipping fresh lemonade on the veranda, surrounded by her admirers. Teenage girl back then took obviously the most dreamy and romantic part of the whole story, easily allowing herself to forget about the troubled part, be it a war horror or the suppression of women. And isn’t it the ideal of fashion – allowing us to dream?

Vassiliev Exhibition

Vassiliev Exhibition

Vassiliev Exhibition

Vassiliev Exhibition

Though it took me to the world of Southern Belles, the era itself is of course mostly known by Queen Victoria and her style in England, while the most glorious gowns of the epoque were in fact made in France, in the haute couture fashion houses, among them the one of Charles Frederick Worth, who many consider to be the very founder of haute couture. The exhibition features garments for many occasions – from ball gowns to morning suits to walking or travelling attires. We can admire the finess of velvet, best quality silk or ivory moire dresses, as well as the luxury touch of fur capes and coats and the refined beads and embellishments.

Vassiliev Exhibition

Vassiliev Exhibition

Vassiliev Exhibition

Vassiliev Exhibition

One of the interesting topics of its own is the mourning attire. As deaths were occurring very suddenly and often back then, every lady of position had the most elegant mourning attire – from ball gowns to walking dresses – to be prepared well in advance. For example, the royal family never left on a journey without packing with them also the mourning attire, just in case a death would occur while they were travelling. And the ladies who could afford to wear haute couture, didn’t let themselves down also while mourning, as their attire was made with the same care and elegance. One of the pieces showcased at the exhibition that I admired most, was a mourning ball gown made of black taffeta, machine-embroidered and embellished with Chantilly black lace.

Vassiliev Exhibition

Vassiliev Exhibition

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