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Fashion library contributes to upcoming Saint Louis Art Museum exhibition

August 19, 2015

Four important garments from the Stephens College Costume Museum and Research Library will be part of an upcoming exhibit at the Saint Louis Art Museum.

Curators from the museum visited the archives this summer to get ideas for “Blow-Up: Graphic Abstraction in 1960s Design,” a show that will run concurrent to a major exhibition “St. Louis Modern.” The side gallery will explore the emergence of large-scale abstract pattern and form in textiles, fashion and furnishings of the 1960s. The exhibit opens Nov. 8 and runs through January.

Stephens is loaning two garments by Marimekko, a Finnish company, and two additional garments from the company’s primary designers, Vuokko Nurmesniemi.

“These objects are fine examples of Finnish textile and fashion design of the 1960s and early 1970s and would complement the Museum’s own collection of Marimekko textiles from the same period featured in the exhibition,” said Brent Benjamin, museum director.

That garments from the Costume Museum and Research Library will be displayed at the Saint Louis exhibition reinforces the fact that the collection includes pieces that are important not only to the College but to the history of American fashion, said Jennifer Cole, assistant curator of the Historic Costume Gallery.

“We know our collection is important to researchers and historians outside of Stephens, and this confirms that,” she said.

Curators praised the College’s costume library when they visited in June.

“I’ve been well aware of this collection for decades, but never had the chance to visit,” said Zoe Perkins, textile conservator curator for the museum (pictured). “It’s a very well-organized and broad collection.”

During their visit, curators worked with Cole to “scout around” for ideas and possible display pieces.

“This is illuminating,” said David Conradsen, The Grace L. Brumbaugh and Richard E. Brumbaugh Associate Curator in Charge/Decorative Arts and Design, during the visit. “We weren’t prepared for how amazing this was going to be. And Jennifer is so knowledgeable of her collection.”

The Costume Museum and Research Library includes more than 13,000 garments donated from designers, alumnae and friends.

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