THREAD: Stories of Fashion at Strawbery Banke, 1740-2012

Strawbery Banke Museum’s 2012 exhibit, Thread: Stories of Fashion at Strawbery Banke, 1740-2012 depicted the people who lived in the Puddle Dock neighborhood of Portsmouth through costumes and textiles associated with their nearly 300 years of history. In addition to items from Strawbery Banke Museum’s extensive collection, Thread also showcased new fashion designs -- inspired by the Collection – created by some of the most dynamic designers, both established names and up-and-coming ingénues.

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

The contemporary designers who accepted the invitation to participate included:

  • Emma Hope, London
  • Philip Treacy, 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
  • Elizabeth Ronzio, St. Louis
  • Project Runway and Lifetime TV's Austin Scarlett and designer Epperson
  • Project Runway Canada's Genevieve Marie Cyr
  • Boston Fashion Week's Carter Smith and Emily Muller
  • New Hampshire designers Bridget Bleckmann, Robin Bettencourt, Erana, Alexa Price, Sarah Koski and Sarah Beth Johnson. 

The exhibit included displays in the Rowland Gallery and juxtaposed historic costumes in their appropriate period settings in the museum’s authentic furnished houses with the contemporary fashions to offer themed "vignettes. " More than two dozen items were displayed including:

  • c. 1740 London Lady's Shoe – the exhibit signature -- and contemporary shoe designer Emma Hope's creation it inspired
  • 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
  • two 1925-1930 bathing costumes
  • a heavy silk suit with brass buttons that belonged to Samuel Cutts’ -- the man who met with Paul Revere in Stoodley’s Tavern in December 1774
  • Sarah Goodwin’s gown, made of the printed cotton woven at her husband (NH Governor) Ichabod Goodwin’s Portsmouth Steam Factory
  • 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,

Curated by: Elizabeth Farish, Chief Curator, Strawbery Banke Museum & Janet Y. Larose, Esq.
Photography by: Ellen McDermott Photography
The Thread exhibit is made possible in part thanks to grants from The Coby Foundation, Ltd., Davis Family Foundation, the Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, Inc., the Roger R. and Theresa S. Thompson Endowment Fund and Elisabeth Bartlett Sturges.

Co-chairs Lawrence A. Larose and Janet Y. Larose hosted 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 was a benefit for Strawbery Banke Museum. 

Kent Stephens STAGEFORCE also produced a history theatre production, "Timestiches."

The Thread catalogue is available at the TYCO Visitors Center.