Strawbery Banke Museum Collections Inspires Contemporary Designers for
Thread: Stories of Fashion at Strawbery Banke, 1740-2012 (May 1- October 31, 2012)
Portsmouth, New Hampshire -- Strawbery Banke Museum (www.strawberybanke.org) presents Thread: Stories of Fashion at Strawbery Banke, 1740-2012 as the feature exhibition, open daily May 1 through October 31, 2012. The exhibition presents the real people who lived in the Puddle Dock neighborhood of Portsmouth through costumes and textiles associated with their nearly 300 years of history from Strawbery Banke Museum’s extensive collection.
In an innovative twist, the Museum’s Thread exhibition also showcases new fashion designs inspired by the Collection, by some of the most dynamic designers, both established names and up-and-coming ingénues. They include: Emma Hope of London, Philip Treacy, also of London, Katerina Lankova (New York and Aspen), Chesley McLaren, Lily Zane and members of The Milliners Guild of New York (Sally Caswell, Christine Roemer, Cigmond, Barbara Volker, Ellen Christine Colon-Lugo) and Elizabeth Ronzio of St. Louis.
Project Runway and Lifetime TV's Austin Scarlett, Epperson and Project Runway Canada's Genevieve Marie Cyr are participating as are Boston Fashion Week's Carter Smith and Emily Muller. New Hampshire designers include Penumbra Textiles by Bridget Bleckmann, Robin Bettencourt, Erana, Leah Kirk, Sarah Koski and Sarah Beth Johnson.
To emphasize the contemporary collection being created specifically for Thread, the Museum presents the Passion For Fashion Gala, including a celebrity designers runway show hosted by Austin Scarlett, champagne reception and VIP dinner on the grounds of the Museum on Saturday, June 30, 2012. The gala evening benefits Strawbery Banke Museum.
Portsmouth is no stranger to fashion. Once the fourth largest port in America, Portsmouth attracted goods from the ordinary to the luxurious, and kept up with the trends imported from Paris and London, from the time “Strawberry Bank” was settled in 1623. More than two dozen items are displayed including embroidered 18th century shoes from London, Susan Osgood Jones’ 1844 cream moiré silk wedding dress, worn when she married into the prominent Wentworth family of Portsmouth; two c. 1770 silk brocade gowns with 1890s Colonial Revival alterations descended through the Peirce family of Portsmouth, and two 1925-1930 bathing costumes.
This exhibition portrays the people of Portsmouth, the way they lived and worked and the way they presented themselves to the world in the historic buildings that form the Strawbery Banke living history museum. The cut, heavy silk and brass buttons of Samuel Cutts’ suit speak to his Colonial prominence and explain why he would be the man who met with Paul Revere in Stoodley’s Tavern. The tiny cuffs and tiny buttons of Sarah Goodwin’s gown, made of the printed cotton woven at her husband (NH Governor) Ichabod Goodwin’s Steam Factory, echo what is known of her social position and household staff. The pink satin dress Patricia Brackett wore to the 1954 Portsmouth High School Junior Prom, displayed in the 1950s vignette in the Shapley-Drisco House, affirms that these are the clothes of real people who led real lives here.
The exhibition extends across the 10-acre campus of Strawbery Banke Museum, the focal point of the downtown Historic District of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The introductory Thread exhibition in The Rowland Gallery focuses on accessories, including the c. 1740 London Lady's Shoe from the collection and contemporary shoe designer Emma Hope's creation inspired by it. Beyond the Gallery, in six of the Museum’s furnished houses c. 1760-1950, visitors encounter vignettes that contrast the historical garments with contemporary designs. Exhibit texts and smart phone audio tours give the curators and designers the opportunity to share their excitement about the Collection with visitors as they consider the questions, “What is Fashion” and “How are these costumes relevant to life in the 21st century?”
Many of the items from the Museum’s Collection are displayed for the first time. As the pieces from the Museum collection are too fragile for permanent display and as the contemporary design will return to their creators, Thread is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Strawbery Banke Museum is located at 14 Hancock Street in downtown Portsmouth, NH. The museum is open 7 days a week, May 1 through October 31. For more information about Thread and about the Museum as a place to gather and to learn about how ordinary people lives over three centuries of New England history, visit www.strawberybanke.org