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Columbia residents join students at opening of fashion exhibit

September 13, 2013

For Columbia resident Mary Ann Groves, the new Bohemian Rhapsody-themed fashion exhibit at Stephens College brought back a flood of memories.

The neckline on the 1960s gold jacquard coat and dress on display reminded her of her wedding gown. Inside the Historic Costume Gallery in Lela Raney Wood Hall, she stopped at a bed jacket displayed among the rare collection of vintage lingerie. Delicate bed jackets, she and a friend reminisced, were once considered proper gifts for women who were in the hospital.

“This is just exquisite,” she said, taking a moment to scan the gallery.

Groves was one of more than 30 visitors who stopped by the opening reception for Bohemian Rhapsody, a show featuring paisley, lace and floral prints that will remain open through Dec. 15. Gallery hours are 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays and noon to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

In addition to the Bohemian looks popular in the 1920s and1970s, visitors can expect pieces with Asian and Egyptian inspiration, as well. Two dresses owned by singer Jane Froman are on loan from Columbia College. Stephens President Dianne  Lynch called the exhibit one of the most beautiful shows she has seen in the gallery.  

Freshman Kathryn McCarthy was drawn to a circus-inspired gown with dramatic sleeves, a cinched waist and lace trimmings.

“I would never wear it, but I love this,” she said.

Students joined community members at the opening as part of a class assignment. Monica McMurry, Dean of the School of Fashion & Design, is teaching a first-year experience course about fashion, culture and identity that challenges freshmen to think about clothing in new ways. Students at the opening had a chance to “claim” a displayed garment they will spend the coming weeks studying.

Freshman Taylor Barber selected a1920s gold flapper gown with floral accents.

“I always thought I should have been a flapper,” she said. “I’ve always loved the 20s. It was an important time in fashion. Lengths were changing; arms could be exposed. It was a powerful era for women.”

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