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Behind the Scenes in Conservation: Installing New Fashion Acquisitions

by Conservation

1/16/2020

textile conservation , Comme des Garcons , behind the scenes , conservation , fashion , textiles , recent acquisitions , new at cam , jacket , dress , tank top , clothing

In a few weeks, we are installing some recent acquisitions from CAM’s fashion collection in Gallery 150! Here is a "sneak preview" of a few of the pieces being prepared. It might seem like displaying fashion is as easy as dressing a (mannequin) body: we all dress our own bodies every day, so what’s the big deal?

The truth is, making fashion art look its best and preserving it for the future is a far more complicated process than throwing a dress on a dummy. The curator and conservator put a lot of work and consideration into selecting the best display forms for both appearance and preservation: dress form or mannequin? Invisible dress form or dressmakers’ dummy? What kind of mannequin? What pose? What kind of padding, support, or accessories are necessary? Even for modern fashion objects like these, which are unlikely to have damage related to age and wear, the textile conservator checks seams and closures to be sure everything is strong and ready for display. We might press or steam creases or other distortions so the pieces look their best. This work (and more!) goes on weeks ahead of installation.

On installation day, we’ll wheel them to their gallery where even more preparation work has happened to create display platforms, safety and security barriers, signage, and a climate-controlled environment for their preservation. Putting fashion art on display is a far cry from rolling out of bed and throwing on something special from CAM’s "closet!" Come and see these pieces (and the rest of the re-installation of gallery 150) in February.

 

Related: Behind the Scenes in Conservation: 1920s Gown