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 "The Textile in Fashion”

Sharon S. Takeda and Kaye D. Spilker,
Curators in the Department of
 Costumes and Textiles Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The fashioning of fashion begins with the choice of textile. An assortment of fabrics---from silk to cotton, gauze to velvet, plain to printed---can be seen in the hundreds of garments and accessories currently on display in the popularly acclaimed exhibition Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700 – 1915 currently on view in LACMA’s new Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion until March 27th. Join the curators of Fashioning Fashion for an illustrated presentation highlighting a wide variety of sumptuous textiles in fashion.

Eighteenth-century aristocratic garments made from “changeable” or “shot” silks were particularly striking as courtiers maneuvered around candlelit rooms. After the French Revolution, fashions of gossamer cotton muslin mimicked the flowing and revealing drapery characteristic of ancient Greek and Roman statues and were worn with equally lightweight exotic cashmere shawls that provided both warmth and luxury. And, imported woven silks from China and printed, resist-dyed, and mordant-painted cottons from India were constructed into stylish European creations and demonstrated exotic subdued elegance that was appreciated by the cognoscenti. 

Sharon S. Takeda is Senior Curator and Head of the Department of Costume and Textiles at LACMA. She spearheaded the acquisition of the Kamer-Ruf collection of European dress and accessories and the organization of Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700-1915. Her first LACMA exhibition, When Art Became Fashion: Kosode in Edo-Period Japan, and its accompanying publication won seven awards including first place in the 1992 American Association of Museums’ Curator's Committee Exhibit Competition and the 1993 Costume Society of America’s Millia Davenport Publication Award.  Other major exhibitions at LACMA include The Fabric of Life: Japanese Folk Textiles, Japonism in Fashion: The Influence of Japan on Western Dress, Miracles and Mischief: Noh and Kyōgen Theater in Japan, and Breaking the Mode: Contemporary Fashion from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  Miracles and Mischief received both The Richard Martin Award for Excellence in the Exhibition of Costume and the Millia Davenport Publication Award.  Additional publications include Japanese Fishermen's Coats from Awaji Island for the Fowler Museum at UCLA and numerous magazine articles. Ms. Takeda serves on the directing council of the Centre International d'Etude des Textiles Anciens (CIETA), an organization for professional textile historians based in Lyon, France.  

Kaye D. Spilker is Curator of Costume and Textiles at LACMA. She holds a BFA from Syracuse University and an MA in art history from University of California, Los Angeles. Before joining LACMA in 1987, she spent several years in Belgium working as an artist, where she has paintings in public and private collections. In addition to being the co-curator and co-author of Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700-1915, Ms. Spilker has curated exhibitions on Los Angeles designer Gilbert Adrian, on the museum’s holdings of Ballets Russes theater costume, contemporary fashion, ancient Andean textiles, and has been a participating curator in a number of major multi-disciplinary LACMA exhibitions.  She programs yearly gallery installations on textiles of the ancient Americas.

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