labricoleuse: (ominous fancy)
[personal profile] labricoleuse
When i first heard about the story of fashion designer Hedy Strnad, I knew i had to see the exhibit featuring her designs made real. Strnad was murdered by the Nazis in WW2, but eight of her fashion design renderings survived, preserved by extended family living in Wisconsin. In conjunction with the costume shop at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, the Jewish Museum of Milwaukee created an exhibit about the Strnads which includes those designs made up in fabrics, as they would have been, had she survived to enjoy the creative career she ought to have known.

After a stint in Milwaukee the exhibit has come to NYC at the Museum of Jewish Heritage down on Battery Park, and today i went to see it. Here are some highlights:

The coat is arranged to display not only the lining which matches the dress (fabric hand-screened by the Rep's artists) but also the designer label they created for her in the style of the period, using Hedy's actual signature from a letter.

I've used that double-button detail myself in a show! I just love this look.

Irregular pleated inset detail in lavender tailored jacket.

Underneat the full-size painted renderings there are fabric swatchs so you can feel the textiles used without groping the displays. Nice stuff!

A distance shot of one of the displays, showing how the mannequins are juxtaposed against historical photographs of the period, informational text, maps, and so forth. There's also a video running which goes in-depth about the involvement of the Rep's costume professionals.

I don't exagerrate when i say that seeing this exhibit was a cathartic and spiritually touching experience. It is a very particular way of approaching an overwhelming tragedy in our history as humankind, and illuminated exactly, precisely what was lost to the world when Hedwig Strnad was murdered. I absolutely loved seeing it documented how costume professionals worked on this incredible project, using the skills of our trade--draping, stitching, millinery, screenprinting--in bringing these designs to fruition, actualizing them for display.

If you are anywhere near NYC and can see it, go. Take a handkerchief and go. And, the exhibit will at some point return to its permanent home in Milwaukee, so if you missed it the first time, you'll be able to catch it again when it comes back.
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