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Displaying Nostalgia: Dresses of the 1950’s and 60’s

If you want to dip your toe into the era of Mad Men and Dreamgirls, head to Gearing Hall for an exhibit of 1950's and 60's ball gowns.


The new exhibit, As Time Goes By, is created by students from the Division of Textiles and Apparel working under the direction of Gail Chovan.

Undergraduates taking Chovan's History of Dress class turned an empty room into a period display through preparation, research, conservation and even publicity.

The result: eight special gowns selected from the School of Human Ecology's Historic Collection are filled by white mannequins and framed by draped panels flowered fabric. Most of the dresses—turquoise sequins on black lace and fern green nylon; ivory tulle embellished with lace; lavender gauze embellished with crystals—pair fitted bodices with long, full skirts.Dramatic lighting and a few champagne flutes finish the scene.

"We figured out decor that creates the feeling of an elegant 1950's party," says Chovan. "We picked very special dresses that represent the era, including a gold damask dress that was worn to John F. Kennedy's inauguration."

The JFK dress was donated—as were many of the other dresses—to the School of Human Ecology by alumna Morene Parten Cutler who wore the dress to the inauguration.

Exhibition details:

As Time Goes By opens on October 27, 2016 in GEA 117.The exhibit will be open when The University of Texas is in session: Monday through Friday from 10am to 5pm until February 1, 2017