Flying in the 1900s was not for the faint of heart. It was relatively so new, the Wright brothers having just sustained the first heavier-than-air aircraft in flight in 1903, and required such skill that crashes were commonplace. The cockpits were uncovered in the open air (no seatbelt) so if the plane were to flip upside-down unexpectedly, pilots could fall out. Not surprisingly, because of the risk and skill involved in piloting a plane, this was considered to be a man’s domain although there were still brave women undeterred.
Not likely to be hired as pilots, adventurous women would often initiate their own air shows and stunt flying, called “barnstorming.” As you can imagine, at that time, not only did spectators want to see the death-defying stunts but also to watch them performed by a female pilot, or aviatrix was an added novelty. As the 20th century progressed, female pilots evolved from barnstorming stunts to achieving new records in flight. Throughout the Femme Fashion Forward period (up until 1930) flying was still dangerous in many regards, and it took certain amount of courage that few possessed.
These women were brave and defied the norm, but often did so with an irresistible flare. Pushing the boundaries of what women were believed capable of, and perhaps with an enviable level of confidence and bravery, it’s no wonder many others looked to them as inspiration. Here are 5 women in particular that you may not have heard of, but at that time were widely known for their skills in the air. From a fashion history perspective, I think it is important to note what these women were wearing, which was often a blend of clothing from the “male” flying domain and womenswear.
(1875 – 1912)
Continue reading “5 Fearless Flying Females You Need to Know”
Exhibit open at the Meadowlands Museum now through September 29, 2018
As you may have seen from my recent social media photos, I have been involved with this project for the Meadowlands Museum as a volunteer Curator and spoke last week at the Museum. This project was like a dream come true in terms of being able to curate my own exhibit on fashion history! What surprised me the most was that the more I (and the wonderful exhibition team) dug into the textile industry of this region, the more there was to find. And not just in bits and pieces — more like an avalanche of information!
Me at the Museum for the Curatorial Talk on 6.2.2018. Behind me you can see a silk gown from 1904 (first made in 1888) and a silk plaid jacket from the late 19th century.
Continue reading “A Stitch in Time: Clothing and Textiles of the Meadowlands 1890-1915”
info on images below
There’s no doubt that wedding dress styles, though steeped in tradition (and much of this due to precedent set by Queen Victoria), change according to the prevailing modes of the time. This was just as much true between the 1880s-1930s as it is today. In honor of the recent marriage between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19, Femme Fashion Forward will showcase wedding dresses throughout the years of the FFF timeline with stylistic notes.
To start off, this video on the exhibition Wedding Belles that took place at the Hillwood Museum from 2011-2012, gives a great overview of the changing styles of wedding dresses. It presents three generations of women’s wedding attire from the Marjorie Merriweather Post family, 1874-1958 >> Wedding Belles
Continue reading “Wedding Dresses 1888 – 1930”
This month you may have noticed some posts on Femme Fashion Forward social media featuring images of objects in the Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology’s (FIT)s, The Body: Fashion and Physique exhibit, curated by Emma McClendon, which is open until May 5. If you have not seen it yet, I highly recommend you take a trip to the Museum at FIT! I want to round out this month by including some other objects in the exhibit from the late 19th to early 20th century, although the exhibit extends earlier and later beyond those dates. These selected objects from the exhibit highlight major differences between a stylish silhouette and physique from the 1880s-1910s and today, dispel some myths about corsetry, and may also be cause for reflection upon the ways in which some of these ideals have stayed with us through time.
Both corsets belong to the Museum at FIT: 98.29.4 and P91.43.2
Continue reading “The Body: Fashion and Physique, Victorian – Edwardian Highlights”
The Dakota is a place of residence in New York City, but it’s more than just the building at 1 West 72nd Street along Central Park West. It was, and is, a luxurious apartment complex and has become one of the most exclusive addresses in New York City. It is often called the most famous apartment building in NYC, as it is considered to be the first luxury apartment building in Manhattan, and has gained recognition and a cult following over the years, though it did not always have that connotation. The building’s co-op board is infamous for its inclusion of popular cultural icons and celebrities, as well as its rejections. Can you believe that Madonna and Billy Joel were rejected from living here? Not only is the façade imposing, the current qualifications for actually living at the Dakota are intimidating as well, with rigorous background checks, financial statement submissions, etc. (the board has also supposedly been accused of bias among other things, but that’s not something we’ll explore in this post).
Ice skating in front of the Dakota, ca. 1890, as seen in Life at the Dakota by Stephen Birmingham (originally from Museum of the City of New York)
But let’s get back to the era of 1880-1930. Why talk about a building instead of dress? I thought this would be an interesting, brief detour from clothing itself, because your address, like clothing, can act as a social statement. This is a more holistic look at style during the 1880s, and a nod to the major architectural changes that were happening in the late 1900s, as impressive buildings were newly dotting the city skyline.
Continue reading “What is The Dakota?”