The Kent State University Museum includes a collection of European folk costumes, with a significant number of Czech, Slovak, and Romanian pieces. However, many of these pieces come with very little identifying information. For our most recent exhibition, Pretty Pleats, I wanted to include an example of the very fine pleating characteristic of Czech and Slovak skirts and sleeves. I identified a piece in our collection that had wonderful pleats, but I had little idea how the five pieces were worn. I also did not know anything beyond the identification “Czechoslovakia” written on the tag.
As I was researching how to arrange the skirt which actually seemed to be two aprons, I found this image through Pinterest, which looked similar to our ensemble because of the blue skirt covered with a red apron and the pleated sleeves. The identifying information on the pin indicated it was a woman’s costume from Moravske Slovacko.
I had just the break in the case that I needed. I quickly discovered a photograph of folk costumes from a particular village in Moravske Slovacko (or Moravian Slovakia which is an area of the Czech Republic near Slovakia).
The distinctive orange pompoms strongly suggested that this was from the same village as our piece. I learned that the outfit was from the village of Uhersky Ostroh. Through the wonders of the internet and Google Translate, I discovered a website from an organization in the village that currently makes traditional costumes.
This website was enormously helpful and includes photographs showing how the sleeves are pleated and the skirts are shaped into deep pleats. We followed the instructions or at least copied the process seen in the photos to prepare the costume for display.
The following slideshow shows the steps we took and the final results:
The complete outfit is currently on display in our exhibition, Pretty Pleats, which runs through March 16, 2014.
Sara Hume, Curator