13 Jul 2012

Living Fashion - Exhibition

Currently there is a very interesting exposition in Antwerp's fashion museum MoMu. It's about daily fashion during 1750 en 1950, showed in different sections.

The first section starts with a comparison of low-and high-budget dresses. Or in current fashion language: the originals and the knock-offs.
Like these dresses from the 1870's for example. They might look the same from our view, but if you take a closer look you might see differences in fabric and cut.
The dress on the left belonged to a fashionista / trendsetter and the one on the right was a simpler copy.

Other sections are: home, pregnant, double usage, dressed/undressed, masquerade, sports, travelling, shopping, ...

I was amazed to hear that women back then had just a few dresses. Even the rich people had about 3 to 5 pieces! They added variety to their gowns with demountable aprons, collars, ribbons, drags, ... Creativity is definitely something of all times.

Further it's quit hard to imagine for us that every piece is handmade. They ordered their clothing at a tailor and waited for months until it was finished or they simply made it themselves.
Things started to change since the 1850's. The Industrial Revolution had many cause-effects. Departments stores and shopping galleries appeared, people went more often outside for a walk. It was all about seeing and being seen. Shopping became a pastime, costumes to shop were designed with innovations (nouveautés) every season.
It's all rather hard to imagine for us, but it was a huge difference for them to change from custom-made clothing to ready-made clothing.

And one more strange thing: many mannequins stand on the ground, no pedestals are used, and with the thought in mind that every dress is tailor-made, they all look so frigging tiny !

It's a very interesting exhibition if you ever wondered what people wore back in the old days and what the differences are now. You have the chance to take a very close look and see all the details. Definitely a must if you're interested in fashion !
(A little tip, the MoMu is a very international focused museum, you will understand everything perfectly and further I recommend a guide, I regret the times I visited one of their exhibitions without one!)

Living Fashion, MoMu Antwerp, till the 12th of August
source pictures


  1. Those dresses must be fascinating to see in person. Some of the corsetry they wore underneath is still seen sometimes in fashion today, but it would sure turn people's head to walk down the street in an entire 1850's outfit like that. It looks like the bustles varied in size. I grew up in very old houses which had small closets that always seemed to small. They must have had to be good with a needle and thread. Love the intricate tiered lace at the shoulders and neck. How interesting to see a 200 year range of fashions there at the MoMu museum in Antwerp. If I ever make it there I will follow your recommendation and try to find a guide.

  2. Jolies photos!Super!
    Angela Donava

  3. Great post!


  4. omg this is an awesome exhibit

  5. Very interesting exhibition!


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