Fashion at the Michener? Like the writer James A.? Yes, there is a museum dedicated to writer James A. Michener, and it’s nestled in Doylestown, PA. While the museum is best-known for its permanent collection of Pennsylvania Impressionist painters, it does present exhibits such as Philadelphia in Style: A Century of Fashion. The garments are on loan from Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, and are a mere sample of the fashions worn by some upper-crust members of the Philadelphia set over the span of the last century (or just about the last century!).
I’d been to the Michener before, but not in many years. I recalled that it was a relatively small museum, and its focus wasn’t fashion or costume history, so I wasn’t sure quite what to expect while attending this particular exhibit, which started out with an absolute BANG!
The details on the dresses from the early 1900s were, of course, positively exquisite, even if the pigeon-breasted look isn’t one of my favorite fashion eras.
Next up were the 1920s, a time ripe with beautiful, unique and strange fashion, and the examples on display represented the era wonderfully.
Once we get into the 1930s, the exhibit took a bit of a down turn. The dresses from the 1930s were lovely enough, but lacked the pizzazz of the 1900s-20s gowns. Even the Schiaparelli wasn’t enough to really keep me interested in what was, stylistically, a really amazing time in fashion.
The 1940s and 1950s were lumped together on the same platform, which was disappointing, although there were some intriguing details to be seen, at least.
The 1960s were one of the last truly inventive and wonderful periods of fashion, and some of the pieces in this exhibit were pretty cool, but others were less-than-lovely, with unattractive and strange (and somewhat surprising) color combinations.
Personally, the 1970s had very little in the way of redeemable fashion value. There was a lot of tacky going on, and there were loads of not particularly attractive silhouettes, styles or color combinations.
Love ’em or hate ’em, parts of 1980s and 90s fashion have made it back into popular and recently current fashion trends. What was on display from this time period was mostly a variety of power suits, in addition to a couple of dresses. The variety is almost startlingly different, but the pieces, independently of each other, were pretty interesting.
Overall, the exhibit was quaint but underwhelming, and had some particularly unattractive frocks on display, mingled with some really beautiful garments and other accessories– it was the accessories and illustrations on display that I found particularly intriguing. Additionally, I really enjoy learning some of the history behind what’s on display, and the information provided in Philadelphia in Style is very general– If you’re in the area, however, the Michener is a wonderful museum to visit, especially for its permanent collection of artwork.
Do you plan on visiting, or have you already visited, any costume and fashion exhibits lately? Is there a great exhibit you’d like to share with us? Go ahead and leave a comment below!