An exhibition at Rosecliff, January 28 - May 7, 2017
Satirists Orson Lowell and Charles Dana Gibson, noted illustrators from the Gilded Age into the early 20th century, created fashion-filled compositions that linked dress and witty social commentary. Their observations about people in society and their foibles were artfully represented in popular publications like The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal, Vogue and LIFE magazine.
Focusing on the life of “high society” in New York City, the artists joined a variety of prestigious organizations from which to garner inspiration for their impressive renderings. Their work invites the viewer to understand fashion as a vehicle for representing and interpreting societal ideals in the Gilded Age.
"Trials of a Handsome Man"
Orson B. Lowell
(Published in LIFE Magazine August 13, 1914)
The exhibition juxtaposes about 50 Lowell and Gibson illustrations with actual period costumes and accessories, displayed on mannequins or in cases, set up in “vignettes” adjacent to the illustrations. This not only brings the illustrations, in effect, “to life” in three dimensions for the visitor; it also allows the visitor to see the historic clothing as part of a broader context of Gilded Age society in New York (so closely tied to that of Newport), as well as inherently beautiful artifacts in their own right.
Costume pieces featured in the exhibition range in opulence from a beaded silk chiffon flapper dress and a silk satin wedding dress to both men’s and women’s wool one-piece bathing suits. Accessories such as a hand painted silk and wood fan, a fancy velvet and ostrich feather picture hat and a number of decorative walking sticks are also on display.
The exhibition comes to us courtesy of the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection, the American Textile History Museum and the Lasell Fashion Collection & Lasell Archives.