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After Hats comes Staging Fashion at the Bard Graduate Center

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Beginning in the late nineteenth century, actresses became key figures in the international cult of celebrity that flourished in the context of a nascent mass media and mass consumerism. Formerly ostracized as women of dubious morals, actresses were presented - and presented themselves - as role models for women across the social spectrum.

Through printed ephemera, exquisite dresses, and accessories, the exhibition Staging Fashion, 1880-1920: Jane Hading, Lily Elsie, Billie Burke explores the roles played by actresses as internationally known and influential fashion leaders at the turn of the twentieth century. This exhibition focuses on Jane Hading (1859-1941), Lily Elsie (1886-1962), and Billie Burke (1884-1970) as case studies through which one may investigate the actress as trendsetter and examine the objects that were instrumental in the creation of her public image and persona.

From today to April 8, 2012, the Bard Graduate Center (BGC) presents Staging Fashion, 1880-1920: Jane Hading, Lily Elsie, Billie Burke. The exhibit is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue edited by the curator Michele Majer, with contributions from Lenard Berlanstein, Sheila Stowell, Marlis Schweitzer, and BGC students.

"Although many people might not be aware of it, our present-day obsession with celebrity actresses goes back to the turn-of-the-twentieth century with the rise of mass media. Glamorous stage performers like Jane Hading, Lily Elsie and Billie Burke were adulated by male and female fans who bought millions of postcards with their images, read thousands of magazines that featured their 'private' lives, and, in the case of women especially, closely followed and often copied their every fashion move." ~~ Michele Majer
Catalogue Cover: Foulsham & Banfield (English, 1906-1920)
Postcard of Lily Elsie as "Angele Didier" in The Count of Luxembourg, ca. 1911. 
Postcard of Billie Burke, ca. 1907, published by Dover Street Studio
Private collection. Photographed by Bruce White
Billie Burke. Cover of The Theatre (Oct. 1908). Private collection Photographed by Bruce White
Reutlinger Studio (French, 1850-1937). Postcard of Jane Hading in La Pompadour, ca. 1901 Private collection. Photographed by Bruce White
Paul Boyer. Jane Hading in Plus que Reine. Cover of Le Theatre (May 1899) Private collection. Photographed by Bruce White
Reutlinger Studio (French, 1850-1937). Postcard of Jane Hading in La Pompadour, ca. 1901 Private collection. Photographed by Bruce White
Charles Poynter (English, 1853-1929) for the House of Redfern (English, 1881-1929) Evening gown, ca. 1904. Museum of the City of New York Photographed by Bruce White
Foulsham & Banfield (English, 1906-1920). Postcard of Lily Elsie in The Merry Widow, ca. 1907 Private collection. Photographed by Bruce White
Foulsham & Banfield (English, 1906-1920). Postcard of Lily Elsie in the Merry Widow, ca. 1907 Private collection. Photographed by Bruce White
Foulsham & Banfield (English, 1906-1920). Postcard of Lily Elsie in The Merry Widow, ca. 1907 Private collection. Photographed by Bruce White
Joseph G. Darlington and Co., Philadelphia (American, active early 20th century). Woman's hat, ca. 1908-10. Philadelphia Museum of Art
Staging Fashion, 1880-1920: Jane Hading, Lily Elsie, Billie Burke
January 18 - April 8, 2012 Click here to see the exhibit on Hats at the BGC.
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