We are currently working on dressing pieces that will be included in our upcoming exhibition: “The Great War: Women and Fashion in a World at War.” Fashions from the period covered, 1912 and 1922, are particularly challenging to dress. First, many of the pieces have condition issues owing to the preference for very sheer, fragile fabrics. Second, the silhouette does not suit any of the mannequins that we have. Our Kyotos, which we use for 19th century pieces, are too buxom and have shoulders that slope too much, while our more contemporary mannequins are too broad shouldered and have inappropriate hip thrusts. Normally we might just use dress forms but many of the pieces have sheer fabrics around the neck and sleeves that require mounts that have arms. Our budget does not allow us to purchase mannequins that would be suitable for these pieces so we decided to make custom mounts out of fosshape and foam.
Jim Williams, our exhibition designer/preparator, and I adapted an existing dress form into a shape that would be small enough to fit the smallest pieces in the exhibition. Jim used this piece as a mold to shape fosshape forms onto. (We also used fosshape as bases for wigs which we covered in an earlier post) He then positioned magnets in the forms and into foam arms so that the arms could attach to the form.
I padded the fosshape form so that it would fit this beautiful silk and lace dress from 1915-17, then covered the padding with a layer of stockinette to hold everything in place. I sewed together white jersey to cover the neck and shoulders of the form. I also made matching covers for the foam arms, leaving openings for the magnets so that the form and arms could hold together.
When the dress is on exhibition, the mount should not attract any attention to itself. Hopefully our visitors will just be able to admire the beautiful lace dress.