Mark your calendar for Friday, March 6: it’s time for the FIDM Museum Fashion Council‘s annual Royal Tea! Held outside in an elegant tent, the afternoon is a chance to meet new friends who share a love fashion history, enjoy a delicious and proper English tea, and experience the hallmark FIDM Museum exhibition The Art of Motion Picture Costume Design. You’ll hear from Museum Coordinator and textile expert Leigh Wishner, who will discuss a fascinating 1940s dress in our collection (keep reading for a detailed description of her presentation), followed by a private tour of our film costume exhibition. The Art of Motion Picture Costume Design features over 100 ensembles from 30 films, including all five Academy Award nominees for Best Costume Design and this year’s winner, Little Women by Jacqueline Durran.
See the invitation below for more information; to purchase a ticket, click here. All proceeds are tax-deductible and support the FIDM Museum acquisition fund.
“There’ll Always Be An England” in Los Angeles: Contextualizing a 1941 British American Ambulance Corps-Print Dress in the FIDM Museum Collection
Leigh Wishner, FIDM Museum Coordinator
“There’ll Always Be an England” might not sound like patriotic American sloganeering, but in 1941, the American fashion industry pressed these words into fashionable service. The FIDM Museum at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising preserves a rare dress made from a textile that employs “mirror-writing” and lyrically references the above-quoted popular British song title. The printed rayon, one in a remarkable series, was manufactured by the New York firm Roth-Getzoff & Co. under the auspices of the British-American Ambulance Corps, which primarily raised funds to purchase ambulances for British armed forces engaged in World War II. In the case of the “B.A.A.C Print” textiles, and fashions made from them, ten percent of proceeds were donated to this charitable organization. Diverse yet coherent, the series concentrated on flora and fauna native to—or emblematic of—Britain; scrolled or abstracted letters spelling “B.A.A.C.”; militaristic and monarchic motifs; and assorted patterns created to appeal to fashion-conscious consumers.
Using the FIDM Museum’s dress as a tangible representation of a superlative moment in American fashion history, this presentation focuses on the B.A.A.C.’s collaboration with the Roth-Getzoff textile company and the fashion promotions centered on this fundraising project. By grounding the B.A.A.C. fabrics in a historical context, a critical evaluation of “novelty” fabrics is possible, proving topical designs could—and did—carry serious messages.