Today the Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute will open its new exhibit, "American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity." (To see the star-studded gala that kicked it off, click here.) According to the Met, the show explores how American women from 1890 to 1940 "initiated style revolutions that mirrored her social, political, and sexual emancipation."
I had a sneak peek at the exhibit on Monday, and what I found was most inspiring. In fact, I'd dare say it was like catnip, for I am an incurable nostalgist when it comes to fashion and style.
Each room of the exhibit was devoted to a distinct historical female archetype, including "the heiress," "the Gibson Girl," "the bohemian," "the suffragist and the patriot," "the flapper," and finally, "the screen siren and the modern woman." Many of my favorite ladies were in attendance, at least in spirit: actresses Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo, heiress Rita Lydig, femme fatale Louise Brooks, and many other iconic powerhouses.
Gazing at the glamorous finery of eras past, as usual I found myself wishing back certain flourishes and trappings, from hand-held fans to white gloves to turbans. So, I decided, why not do a special Let's Bring Back edition, devoted to certain historical fashions, using images from the Costume Institute exhibit?
Let's Bring Back -- my longstanding column celebrating forgotten objects, rituals, curiosities, and personae from bygone eras -- has always been, at heart, a celebration of stylish living throughout the ages. It would be a pleasure to reintroduce some of the beautiful, whimsical, and occasionally practical adornments we've left behind.
Without further ado, let's bring back:
On November 1, 2010, Chronicle Books will release a book by Lesley M. M. Blume based on this popular column. 'Let's Bring Back' will be a sophisticated, stylish cultural encyclopedia, celebrating forgotten objects, pastimes, and personae from bygone eras. From sealing wax and quill pens to the Orient Express, fainting couches, and limericks, there is a great deal of ground to cover. Please make sure to visit previous installments of Let's Bring Back.