After our two pieces, the blue taffeta walking dress and the man’s suit, were chosen for the “Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity” exhibition, we had to photograph them for the catalogue. (To see more about the selection process see this post). In July 2012, we were contacted by the publications department of the Art Institute of Chicago with the request for photographs.
The first step in photographing the pieces was to dress them on mannequins. We have the same mannequins that the Costume Institute had selected to display the dresses on for the exhibition, so we were able to ensure that our pieces would fit without problem.
The man’s suit is extremely slim and not only required very little padding, but space had to be left between the torso and legs of the mannequin in order to stuff the ends of the shirt. Without this gap, the frock coat was too snug to button. The shirt, collar and shoes are installation pieces. We have a supply of vintage pieces that are used for installation although they are not part of the collection. In addition to shoes and shirts, this supply includes petticoats and gloves. The tie is a piece of black ribbon that has been tied into a period appropriate bow. The bow has been stitched in place. The end of the ribbon that loop around the back of the neck has been cut so that it can be tucked into the jacket collar. This way the tie doesn’t have to be refashioned at each of the exhibition’s venues.
The woman’s dress fits well on the mannequin. Some padding and tulle is required to provide the volume and fullness that is appropriate for a bodice of this period. To create the fullness in the skirt we used a pad for the bustle and layered several petticoats of muslin and tulle. The pieces of pleated lace at the neck and at the wrists are installation and have been added to complete the ensemble.
Sara Hume, Curator