News from the Costume Chair
by Sharon Shore, Costume Chair
Visitors to the ARC are in for a treat from the golden age of musicals!
Our costume display features a one-piece worn in Meet Me in St. Louis, a film made by MGM in 1944. This romantic musical starring Judy Garland and Margaret O’Brien portrays the story of a family who lived in St. Louis in 1904 just before the opening of The Louisiana Purchase Exposition World’s Fair.The film, which depicted a forward-looking and exciting time of expansion in United States history, was made during a dark period with the nation involved in World War II. Directed by Vincent Minnelli, the film was very successful and won many awards and accolades. It has been designated as culturally significant by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation by the United States National Film Registry.
Dress Styles Reflect Optimistic Spirit Of The Early 1900s
Western dress styles in 1904 reflected a spirit of exuberance and opulence with wide brimmed hats supporting huge arrangements of flowers and feathers, as well as elaborate “day” and “afternoon dresses made of gathered and pleated cotton voile emphasizing tiny waists and mono bosom bodices. The peach-colored dress in our display reflects the period style of the “day” dress with contrasting turquoise trim, a tightly cinched waist and puffed sleeves. It has a high collar with yoke-like design below made up of rows of applied trim at the bodice. The gathered skirt and sleeves are embellished with rows of ruffles.
The costume design for Meet Me in St. Louis dress is attributed to Irene Sharaff and worn by Jean Francis (as noted on the costume’s sewn-in label). The attributions are recorded in original provenance notes in the archives but are not confirmed by other sources at this time.
Historic Information Welcomed
The Culver City Historical Society is fortunate to have had this dress included in the MGM collection and would welcome additional information about the dress as used in the film to add to our meager provenance notes. If you happen to have such information, please send it to the attention of the Costume Committee Chair, Culver City Historical Society (see email and US mail address on the last page of the newsletter).
Costume Care Tip For Fall
Family keepsakes and or family heirloom collections often include a textile which is too fragile to store with the rest of the collection or one considered important enough to warrant special treatment. It might be a grandmother’s wedding veil or a boy scout uniform and the value it holds is usually not defined by dollars alone (or not at all). One of the most important considerations for storing these textiles is the wrapping used inside the box, drawer, bag or other container chosen. The best wrapping consists of archival white tissue paper in sheet form. Unlike white tissue gift wrapping paper, the archival tissue paper costs around $1.00 per sheet, depending on quantity purchased and source. It is manufactured to be chemically non-reactive in contact with textiles and has no brightening or other additives. It is soft, semi-transparent and often referred to as “acid free” (actually it usually falls somewhere around 6.0 to 7.0 on a pH meter) and UNbuffered. A second type of archival tissue paper is “buffered” but for chemical reasons beyond the appropriate boundaries of this column, it is not safe for use with most textiles.