Out & About: “Hooped” with the Fashion Council

The FIDM Museum Fashion Council's annual study day celebrated the Hooped: Dress of the 1860s exhibition, on view at FIDM's Orange County campus through February 20th. After a southern-inspired luncheon, Council members and their guests toured the gallery and heard talks by Curator Kevin Jones, Museum Associate Joanna Abijaoude, and Textile Conservator Cara Varnell. 

Image[2] (2)

A girl's embroidered dress of c. 1865 and a satin corset of c. 1868 in Hooped: Dress of the 1860s


Fashion Council Chair Mima Ransom and committee member Linda Knoth

Photo (2)

A girl's hoop petticoat of c. 1863-68

The speakers shattered myths about southern belles and their style secrets. In his talk on mourning dress in the Civil War era, Kevin noted that while one gown in the Hooped show has an 18-inch waist, 24 inches is the average of surviving garments from the era, and they all required corsets. Joanna demonstrated how Walter Plunkett–who designed the costumes for Gone With the Wind, among other historical films–took inspiration from 1860s fashion plates, while adapting Civil War styles to 1930s tastes and figures. And Cara–who conserved the movie's costumes, now housed in Austin's Harry Ransom Center–revealed that Vivien Leigh's dresses actually had 24 1/2-inch waistlines, even though her character, Scarlett O'Hara, claims to have a 17 1/2-inch waist.  


Image[1] (2)A gingham silk taffeta gown from c. 1865 with an 18-inch waistline

Image[2]Southern-inspired salads

PhotoPetite desserts for Scarlett O'Hara-sized waistlines

Image[1]Non-alcoholic mint juleps

The sold-out event was the final gathering of 2015 for the Fashion Council, but an exiting new year of programming will begin in February with the annual "Royal Tea." Membership in the Council–the FIDM Museum's primary support group–is free. The group gathers for four events annually, plus exhibition openings and study tours. (A New York trip is planned for 2016!) Why not join this charitably chic club?

Image (2)Flowers worthy of a belle's boudoir


2 responses to “Out & About: “Hooped” with the Fashion Council

  1. J. Waligorski says:

    The girl’s hoop petticoat of c. 1863-65 really confuses me. It has a bustle pad, it is elongated rather than a bell shape and has an opening in front? Are we sure this is not a maternity hoop? Everything about it just seems odd, but of course I don’t have access to the provenance. Can a curator speak to this item?

  2. FIDM Museum says:

    Hi J,

    Thanks for the question! We consulted our Curator, and here’s what he had to say: All hoops opened at the front waist; they had to in order to slip them over the wearers’ shoulders or pull them up over the hips/abdomen (which were plumbed-up due to skin/fat/muscles being pushed down by the corset). Also, the pad is not a bustle. Bustle were used to extend the dress outward from the body and support massed fabric gathered at the back. A small bum-pad was use to keep the hoop from tilting forward on the body. The pelvis is angled forward (easier to see from the side) and the pad was used to balance the hoop structure. Similar pads were used in the 1890s when skirt shapes returned to the full, gored design, but without hoops to sustain them. A pad was used to keep the fabric from collapsing against the wearer’s legs at back and to help give a graceful line when seen from the side.

    The girl’s hoop is probably closer in date to the late 1860s when hoops lost their bell shape, becoming flatter in the front and more conical.

    Hope that helps!

Leave a Reply