Sunday, August 2, 2015

Fashion Icon of Hillwood Estate

Today my daughter and I made another lovely visit to the Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens in Washington DC, for yet another fashion exhibit. Previously I saw Napoleonic Era gowns as well as Pret a Papier. This time the fashions to be featured were of the homeowner herself, Marjorie Merriweather Post who lived from 1887 to 1973. Thus the range of gowns were fabulous...hence the catchphrase for the mansion...where fabulous lives. Alas I am not allowed to share any personal photographs. However Hillwood has been sharing photos of the collection on their facebook page.
The loveliness of seeing Post's gowns is that many of them are beautifully displayed on dress forms throughout the mansion, in the setting she would have worn them. Formal evening gowns from the early 1900's are displayed in the formal dining room against a backdrop of a stunningly displayed china on a table that seats 12 people, beautifully lit by a large crystal chandelier.  In the family living area an elegant satin dressing robe from the 1930's.  In her closet I got to open her dresser, in which her corset, garter and stockings from 1908. Another drawer yielded a corset cover and petticoat from 1905. Yet another drawer displayed delicate silk charmeuse slips and drawers from 1918. One of the outer buildings held a more formal exhibit in traditional museum style. I couldn't get photos of those.

This exhibit "Ingenue to Icon: 70 Years of Fashion from the Collection of Marjorie Merriweather Post" has two parts. During the summer they displayed Post's spring and summer fashions. Currently they are showcasing the autumn and winter fashions. I got to attend the summer exhibit in August.


Post was the daughter of a wealthy cereal manufacturer, so she grew up in elite society of the Gilded Age. She married well, several times and purchased a mansion near Washington DC for the dual purpose of living in it while turning it into a museum with her collections. Her first collection was of 18th century French pieces. One room in particular in her house is elaborately decorated in Rococo style with original pieces from 18th century France. Some of my favorites are items that once belonged to Marie Antoinette. Later she began rescuing Russian treasures of the czars when her husband was a dignitary in post-revolution Russia. Stunning. Simply stunning. Walking from room to room of a home, that is filled with treasures of the past that sparkle...walking in history. To see photos of some of these lovely items, see their pinterest page.

After enjoying the gowns my daughter and I enjoyed tea in the garden...


Then we explored the meandering paths of the garden
















After a bit of walking we rested in the shade to practice sketching this scene (minus the lawn chairs) in our art journals...


Then I bought a few things in the gift shop, including the book that has photography of all the gowns from the exhibit...



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