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Go “Behind the Seams” of Drexel’s Upcoming Historic Costume Exhibition at Spring Style Saturday Event

April 24, 2015

Salvatore Ferragamo, circa 1955, purchased by FHCC. Photo by Michael Shepherd.
Salvatore Ferragamo, circa 1955, purchased by FHCC. Photo by Michael Shepherd.

What does it take to mount a large-scale costume exhibition?

Christian Dior, Fall-Winter 1963, gift of Mrs. Walter Annenberg and Community Clothes Charity. Photo by Michael Shepherd.

On Saturday, May 9, Clare Sauro, curator of the Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection in Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, will give guests an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to bring an empty gallery to life with historic fashion treasures.

At the spring “Style Saturday” event, entitled “Behind the Seams: The Making of a Costume Exhibition,” Sauro will discuss all aspects of an exhibit from mounting to mannequins, and why certain objects are chosen to be included over others.

Guests also will get a sneak peak at some of the items that will be on display in the Collection’s first large-scale, retrospective exhibition, Immortal Beauty: Highlights from the Robert & Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection, which will be on display in the Leonard Pearlstein Galley (3401 Filbert St.) from Oct. 2 – Dec. 14. The exhibition is sponsored by the Richard C. von Hess Foundation and will be free and open to the public.

“Behind the Seams” is part of the ongoing Style Saturday event series, through which one of the finest teaching collections in the country is made available to the public. Each event includes an educational seminar on a particular aspect of fashion history and a specialized viewing of the collection. Previous events have explored the history of 1920s fashion, floral motifs in fashion, the iconic style of Grace Kelly and the over-the-top looks of the 1980s.

Fabergé, circa 1900, Gift of Mrs. George W. Childs Drexel. Photo by Michael Shepherd.

The event will take place on Saturday, May 9 from 10 a.m.1 p.m. in the URBN Center (3501 Market St.). Tickets are $50, and can be purchased here or by calling 215-571-3504. Space is limited. All proceeds will benefit the Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection.

Housed in Drexel’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, the Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection is a museum-quality collection of more than 12,000 garments, textiles and accessories spanning more than 200 years. It is one of the oldest teaching collections in the United States. The oldest documented objects are a man’s waistcoat dating from the 1750s and a group of 16th century velvets. The internationally recognized collection has lent objects to exhibitions in Paris and Milan.

Sauro, curator of the collection, joined Drexel in 2008 and has more than 15 years of experience in the field of historic costume and museum environments. She previously served as an associate curator for the historic collection at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. During her tenure at Drexel, Sauro has contributed to the exhibitions “Rest Your Feet” (2008) and “A Legacy of Art, Science & Industry: Highlights from the Collections” (2013.) In 2011, she curated the exhibition “Brave New World: Fashion & Freedom, 1911-1919,” in conjunction with the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA.)  

Sauro is a frequent lecturer on the history of fashion and research collections and is regularly interviewed and consulted by journalists and scholars. In addition to her role as curator, she teaches courses in the history of fashion to students in Drexel’s nationally ranked fashion program. Sauro’s current research includes fashion from 1919 to 1939, and the role of the artifact in education.


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