What has happened at Costume Colloquium III

Do you want to know what happened in Florence? Read here the recap of the great Costume Colloquium III!

Wednesday, November 7th

CCIII Vintage Crawl is history. Participants had a fantastic walking tour visiting five of Florence’s fabulous vintage clothing stores.

The tours finished at UB where we gathered for a fabulous cocktail party with delicious appetizers, wine and conversation about CCIII expectation. The atmospheare was great also thanks to this special venue. UB in fact is an unusual place where you can rediscover the past. Hidden from the eyes of distracted passers-by, furniture and objects change shape, use or destination before continuing their journey. A real corner of vintage Florence!

If you want to know more about the Vintage Crawl itinerary you can see all the deatail on the Life Beyond Tourism No Profit Portal.


Best photos of the Vintage Crawl and Welcome Reception


Thursday, November 8th

Session I: Interpreting Fashion of the Past in the Past
moderator: Roberta Orsi Landini

Charlotte Nicklas – Brighton, UK

‘There is a Great Deal of Searching into Former Times’: Fashion and the Past in the Mid-19th Century

Clothes are more than the body, clothes also represent ideas. “Tell me how you dress and I will tell you what you are” may be said of both nations and individuals. Nicklas examines the uses of historical dress in texts, images and surviving objects exploring the complex attitudes of the historical past that emerged from fashion news and illustrations.

Alexandra Bosc – Paris, France

Costume Transformations as a Way of Legitimization for the French Bourgeoisie in the Second Part of the 19th Century

This discussion is about garments newly made from older ones in the second part of the 19th century, with a special interest in items using luxurious elements such as silk, embroidery, lace, old buttons, old court coats or gowns in a way that doesn’t erase their antique quality. What is the social significance of these clothes in the bourgeois society of the 1850s-1890s?

Susie Ralph – Bath, UK

Inspired by the Antique: Margaine Lacroix and the Robe Tanagreenne

How did three models at Longchamp wearing a dress slit to the knee inspired by the tanagra, a Greek figure from ancient Greece, cause such a scandal in 1908 and at the same time cause a fashion sensation? The Vatican condemned this dress calling it a shipwreck of virture but Lily Langtry wore one, just one week after its Longchamp debut. How was this design interpreted for the fashionable Parisienne of the Belle Epoque and how is this dress responsible for the changes in the female silhouette in the years immediately preceding the First World War?

Session II Returning to the Future: Inspirations and Influences of Past Traditions in Fashion Today
moderator: Alexandra Palmer

Bina Sengar – Aurangabad Maharashtra, India

Deccani Paintings: Inspiring Contemporary and Future Fashion

Sengar discussed the interrelations between the current patterns of fashion on costumes like Sherwanis, Anakali, Lehnaga, Dhotara, Nawarri and Sarara which continue to be formally worn by the people of South Asia and are represented in the costumes portrayed in the miniature paintings of Deccan. The colors of gold, silver, minakari and zari in the paintings of those costumes continue to inspire designers of today.

Licia Triolo with Susanna Conti and Naomi Kato – Florence, Italy

Conservation and Innovation: Traditional Techniques, Research and Conservation of a Japanese Military Uniform

This paper reported the information acquired during the conservation a 17th century Japanese manchira from the Stibbert Museum in Florence. The in depth analysis shed light on the techniques used to create the piece while showing us the continual use of traditional Japanese methods and styles in contemporary fashion, in particular those of Yohji Yamamoto.

Jonathan Faiers – Winchester, UK

Past Perfect?

Referencing designers Madame Gres, Halston and Christopher Kane and the science fiction films: Things to Come, Logan’s Run and Rollerball– Faiers investigates how drawing inspiration from the past usually results in fashion that reflects the present and influences the future. He describes how a specific vision of Classical dress, usually worn by the patrician order featured in these films, is incorporated into contemporary dress to express socio-political ideologies.

Pascale Gorguet Ballesteros – Paris, France

A Few Thoughts Inspired by the Exhibition 18th Century Back in Fashion, Versailles

In July of 2011, an exhibition called the 18th Century back in Fashion opened in Paris. This exhibit featured a confrontation between 18th century costumes and 20th-21st century haute couture and fashion design dresses. Most designers used the 1800s as a repertoire for shapes and ornamentation. But Vivienne Westwood who evokes Madame de Pompadour in her Cocotte collection, Karl Lagerfeld who is a fan of Antoine Watteau and Christian Lacroix who admires the fashions of the 1750s are all fascinated by this era and have borrowed extensively from the period to create their own designs.

Hoshino Tsuji – Kyoto, Japan

Traditional Techniques in Contemporary Fashion: the Kyokane Dress Collection

This brief presentation showed the creations of new styles of wedding dresses blending traditional Japanese designs and fabrics based on the ancient kimono and obi. Japanese wedding ceremonies are held at major shrines and temples marked as “World Heritage” or “National Heritage” in Kyoto. The Kyokane company seeks to preserve this 1200 year old tradition of Kyoto.

Session III: Rediscovering Historical Techniques, Tastes and Trends
moderator: Daniela Degl’Innocenti

Susan Neill – Chicago, IL, USA

The Texture of Ideas: Dynamic Symmetry in Handwoven Textiles by Mary Crovatt Hambidge

Handwoven techniques incorporating dynamic symmetry in the garments and textiles created by Mary Crovatt Hambidge (1885-1973) were a balance of technique and imagination that stood far apart from those of the era. Hambidge formulated each aspect of her textiles from their basis in Greek techniques and garment styles to the integrity of the raw materials to their overall materials to their overall proportions inlaid motifs, color harmonies and organic movements.

Kimberly Alexander – Durham, N.H., USA and Emma Hope – London, UK

Brocade and Paste Buckles: The London Work of Thomas Ridout, James Davis and Emma Hope

Emma Hope, the celebrated English shoe designer, stepped in for Kimberly Alexander to discuss the journey of a Georgian Shoe and it’s continued influence today. She explores the possible impact of the collaboration of a shoe designer (Hope) whose designs echo those of 18th century high style London with a museum curator (Alexander) and how this might result in new ideas, attract new viewers and lay the groundwork for innovative scholarship.

Alla Myzelev – Guelph, Canada

Have You Heard? Knitting is Cool Again: Reinventing the Handmade through Performance

Previously associated with the conventional and conservative grandmother’s socks and sweaters, knitting became popular in large measure due to its association with hip, young and artistically inclined groups of women. Today some feminist artists are using knitting as a creative means to expose domestic violence and crimes against, about, or by women.

Joy Spanabel Emery – West Kingston, R.I., USA

Tissues of Dreams: Documents of Fashion

Dressmaking patterns are being recognized as valuable documents of 19th and 20th century fashions. While fashions changed rapidly in the 20th century, patterns reflected and documented those changes. The vitality of new companies and the survival of 100 plus year old companies speaks to the synergy and the value of the pattern industry.

Hannah Wroe – Nottingham, UK

Pattern Cutting Publications 1935-1955: A Pattern Cutter’s Perspective

Wroe examines the evolution of pattern cutting techniques documented in UK and American publications of this era. She discusses the impact, relevance and value of these texts for use by contemporary students and fashion designers within today’s global fashion market.

Claire Bonavia – Tarxien, Malta

Maltese Country Folk Costumes

This presentation describes the significance and characteristics of rare surviving examples of Maltese folk costumes preserved in the Maltese National Costume Collection. Since many of these costumes no longer exist, literature from visitors, from illustrated works of country folk of the 16th and 19th century was used for researching and understanding the original Maltese folklore costumes.

Private tour of Museo Gucci thrills CCIII participants
Gucci was de riguer for Audrey Hepburn, David Niven, Rod Stewart and Sophia Loren, to name a few, and now Costume Colloquium participants can add their names to the list of Gucci lovers. CCIII goers were treated to a private tour and opulent reception following the conclusion of day one. This fantastic museum features a Gucci’ed out Cadillac Seville, a collection of iuconic bags and many more of their beautiful trademarked luxury items including riding saddles, golf bags and surf boards. CCIII thanks Museo Gucci for their incredible hospitality.

The new Gucci Museum which houses not only a 90-year collection of their iconic leather goods but also an extensive exhibition of contemporary art. The museum’s slogan of “Forever Now” is in total sync with this year’s CCIII mission statement, Past Dress-Future Fashion.
The contemporary art installations includes a Gucci customized vintage Cadillac, videos, paintings, photographs, and light projections courtesy of the Pinault Foundation. Housed in the 14th-century Palazzo della Mercanzia in the Piazza della Signoria, the museum also features a Gucci store, Rizzoli book shop specializing in fashion publications, and internet cafè and a gift shop.


A selection of great pictures from Day One


Friday, November 9th

Session IV: Collecting Fashion, Aims and Accessibility
moderator: Gillion Carrara

Mary M Brooks – Durham, UK

‘My Yellow Dress seems to have attained Celebrity’: Acquiring and Displaying the Dress and Textile Collection at York Castle Museum, England

The growth of the York Castle museum’s collection of dress accessories and textiles and the 30,000 pieces mapping the growth of the collection are discussed. Variety and sources of donations and why people donate is examined as well as the scope the museum’s display and collecting.

Christina Johnson – Los Angeles, CA, USA

Doris Langley Moore: Ultimate Woman in Fashion

Johnson discussed how the historic fashion collections of Doris Langley Moore (1902-89) which formed the Fashion Museum in Bath continues to perpetuate many fashion museums today. She also presents how her influence continues at the Museum & Galleries of the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising which has recently acquire some of her gowns.

Sarah Pointon – Sydney, Australia

The Australian Dress Register: Accessing the Past through Dress

Pointon who is with the Powerhouse Museum illustrates the collaborative online database project which documents significant pieces of men’s, women’s, children’s clothing from pre-1945 Australia. It’s collaborative structure enables communities from all over the country to maintain their onsite collections while they add data to the online register.

Session V: Learning from Dress Collections and Fashion Documents
moderator: Rosalia Varoli-Piazza

Caroline Marie Bellios and Michel Lynn Shumate – Chicago, IL, USA

A Study Collection – New Technologies and Functionalities

Bellios and Shumate discuss how in addition to housing a costume collection and teaching traditional fashion design techniques, the Fashion Resource Center at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago also features a designer’s studio, with relevant videos, library, and extensive online database.

Marie McLoughlin – London, UK

Bricolage and Historicism: British Designers as Storytellers

British designers have an idiosyncratic approach to design. The links between fashion and the Victoria and Albert Museum as a place for students of St. Martin’s School of Art to explore is examined. Noted alumni of the school, John Galliano, one of the best storytellers, draws influence from images of the 18th century French Revolution including Marie Antoinette. Alexander McQueen who borrows from Julia Margaret Cameron and Sam Taylor-Wood exhibits strong elements of craftsmanship. British fashion students are encouraged to view the past as a source of inspiration for their future designs.

Dale Peers – Toronto, Canada

Making Fashion History, Fashion Present

The Fashion Resource Center at Seneca College of Toronto, Canada takes a broad, multidiscliplinary approach with their students and encourages them to recognize trends, design and create displays, and to understand the business and marketing aspects of fashion in addition to being proficient fashion designers. Their study collection includes 15,000 fashion items from three centuries and is a useful resource tool for students and faculty.

Alessandra Arezzi Boza – Florence, Italy

Europeana Fashion: Disclosing European’s Fashion Heritage Online

The Europeana Fashion project which will feature over 700,000 fashion related digital objects will publish online in March 2015. Images representing historical dresses to accessories, photographs, posters, drawings, sketches, videos, and fashion catalogues will be available. Europeana Fashion is a best practice network of 23 partners, representing the leading public and private museums, archives and collections from 12 European countries. More information about the project will be available soon on the project website:

Stefania Ricci – Florence, Italy


Ricci offers details on the Marilyn Monroe exhibition at the Museo Ferragamo which features an extensive photographic and costumes from some of Monroe’s more iconic films are on display. A collection of Ms. Monroe’s Ferragamo shoes and film clips complement the exhibition.

Session VI: Conserving and Displaying Dress and Costumes
moderator: Mary Westerman Bulgarella

Joanna Hashagen – County Durham, UK

The New Fashion & Textile Gallery at the Bowes Museum

The Bowes Museum has created new ways to display, study and interpret their permanent collection of world class fabrics and textiles. The Bowes has discovered several award-winning, methods of presentation–including the purpose-built Glass Cube– and access to their costume collections which are visually stunning and highly functional for the display, study and storage of textiles and dress.

Janet Wood – London, UK

Old Materials, New Solutions: The Development of Acrylic Mannequins for the Display of Historic Dress

Textile conservators are always faced with the challenge of finding new ways to display historic dress. The development of a range of acrylic mannequins was a success for exhibits at the Bowes Museum fashion and textiles gallery, and for an exhibition of court dress at Kensington Palace. Wood details the procedures used to create the new featureless dress support.

Claudia Ianuccilli – Boston, MA, USA

Grecian Pageantry Costume at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Ianuccilli discusses the methods used to conserve a 1900s pageantry dress donated to the museum and to be installed in the American Renaissance Gallery of the new American Wing at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Conservation techniques and specific methods needed to restore the insect damaged dress were discussed.

Suzanne Chee – Sydney, Australia

Speedo @Swimwear – Race Against Time

The Powerhouse Museum holds the only Speedo archives in the world. During a recent in-house survey, it was noted that fabrics constructed in the 1980s had been deteriorating, mysteriously. Chee discusses the research that led to discover why this occurred and what methods have been employed to prevent this from occurring again.

Alazne Porcel Ziarsolo – Bilbao, Spain

Conservation of 20th Century Fashion Collections: The Cristobal Balenciaga Museum Collection

In order to establish adequate conservation and storage of 20th century fashion collections, it is necessary to establish an adequate conservation and restoration methodology. Constant research must continue in order to keep pace with the deterioration of these fashions. Porcel Ziarsolo amply illustrates the methods being used to document, preserve and display this important collection which contains a variety of new materials, all posing conservation problems.

Exclusive visit to the Galleria del Costume in Palazzo Pitti with Anna Piaggi exhibition

Day Two ended with the presentation of the Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti by its director, Caterina Chiarelli, followed by the visit to the Galleria del Costume at the Pitti Palace where we were treated to a private tour of the galleries. A special selection of costumes owned by the late, Anna Piaggi, to which the director of the museum, Caterina Chiarelli made an homage, was also on view. Also, of particular interest to participants, was the display of the Medici burial clothes. and an overview of many of the details of the conservation was given by the project’s conservator, Mary Westerman Bulgarella.

Let’s not forget that the Costume Gallery is dedicated to the study, preservation and history of Italian fashion. Created in 1983, the Costume Gallery is located in the beautiful neoclassical Palazzina della Meridiana. This internationally prestigious collection contains more than 6,000 items from the 16th to the 20th century and includes historical and modern couture, and costumes and accessories from cinema and the theatre. The vast couture collection includes dresses designed by Worth, Poiret, Vionnet, Capucci, Missoni, Valentino, Pucci, Ferrè, and Yves Saint Laurent, to name a few.

A selection of the best pictures from Day Two


Saturday, November 10th

Session VII: Recycling Repurposing and Wearing Vintage and Dress of the Past
Moderator: Roberta Orsi Landini

Thessy Schoenholzer Nichols – Florence, Italy

Recycle, Readapt and Reuse in the Past: to Smarten Up or to Extend Wear?

Schoenholzer Nichols discusses the cultural, historical and anthropological discoveries of and surprises found during her examination and analysis of the funeral robes of the mummies of Monsampolo del Tronto. This is an ongoing research project.

Alexandra Palmer-Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada

Reframing Reconfigured Luxury Fashion

Palmer argues that reconfigured/modified costumes can be thought of as documents of “alternative expression as design” and these modified garments are valuable additions to collections as they have retained economic, social and cultural values over time.

Agata Zborowska-Warsaw Poland

Cultural Recycling: Reinterpretation of History in Modern Fashion

Recycling of clothing can be seen as a process of looking for new meaning, motivated by aesthetic and not by environmental consideration. Using an analysis of clothes, styles and ideas, Zborowska discusses the phenomenon of reinterpretation of history as seen in modern fashion.

Jeanie Marie Galioto, University of San Diego

Victorian Fashion as an Underground Subculture: the Tainted and Worldly Beauty of Steampunk

According to Galioto, the Steampunk subculture has found its way into mainstream culture. Steampunk is seen not only in fashion, literature and music but its influences appear in television, films and conventions. Although the aesthetic is based on the Victorian silhouette, the style embraces modern technology and combines the two, creating a fantasy Victorian world.

Session VIII: Reconstructing and Reproducing Historical Clothes
moderator: Carlotta Del Bianco

Sara Piccolo Paci – Florence. Italy

The 12th Century Inspired Costumes of the Palio di Legnano: 80 Years of Challenging Identities

Piccolo Paci reports on reconstructing authentic 12th century inspired costumes of the Palio de Legnano, a reenacted historical event. She illustrates how the concept of representation of the Middle Ages has changed over time in relation to the development of a city and a national identity of the Legnano territory and of its inhabitants.

Brenda Rosseau – Williamsburg, VA, USA

Recreating Dress for the Visitable Past

Rosseau discusses the research, techniques and the constant search for appropriate modern day textiles necessary to recreate authentic printed, painted and embroidered fashions and adaptations of antique items for eighteenth century style. This research is essential for the reconstruction of authentic dress used for reenactment at Colonial Williamsburg. A reproduced dress was modeled during her presentation.

Deirdre Murphy – London, UK

“Arrayed with Gorgeous Splendour”: Clothing for Queen Victoria’s Costume Balls

This presentation was based on the exhibition at Kensington Palace on Queen Victoria. Using color illustrations and historical references taken from actual diaries, Murphy presents the opulent and extravagant clothing worn for by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and guests for Queen Victoria’s three themed Costume Balls. The fashions for these balls were inspired by the Medieval period, the Stuarts and the Georgian era.

Teresa Cristina Toledo De Paula – Sao Paulo, Brazil

REPLICAR: A Multidisciplinary Experience in a 1900s Dress Reproduction for Contemporary Museum Research and Display

Toledo De Paula discusses the Replicar project and the difficulties encountered by a team comprised of a textile conservator, dress historian, seamstresses, pattern makers, textile designers and a group of four trainees who worked to create a replica of a 1900s black dress of the Countess of Pinhal.

Dinie Van Der Heuvel – Eindhoven, Holland

Hidden Treasures: A Research Project on Garments Used for Smuggling

After extensive leg work, Van Der Heuvel and her staff found one-of-a-kind articles of clothing used for smuggling and hiding discovered in a variety of unusual places. Many times, these “forgotten items” were found in museum basements and in long neglected files. This clothing contained secret compartments used to transport everything from trumpets to silverware, coins, grains, trains and even, potatoes.

Session IX: Dressing performers for the Performing Arts: Designers, Creations and Fashion Influences
moderator: Alexander Palmer

Michelle Tolini Finamore – Boston, MA, USA

Venus in Finery: The Seductress of Silent Cinema

Tolini Finamore presents videos and stills of the highly stylized costumes of actresses Theda Bara, Clara Kimball Young, Gloria Swanson and Greta Garbo to name a few, to highlight the enduring fashion image of the fallen woman and the female seductress as depicted on the silent screen.

Bonnie Kruger – St Louis, MO, USA and Holly Poe Durbin – Irvine, CA, USA

“I Don’t Dress Movie Stars, I Dress Characters”: The Exceptional Career of Costume Designer Ann Roth

The legendary costume designer, Ann Roth who has garnered six lifetime achievement awards and an Academy Award for her work on the 1930’s romance film, The English Patient has successfully presented the past through her meticulous, thoughtful and realistic costume designs. Her works have appeared on characters in movies ranging from Klute, Owl & the Pussycat, Midnight Cowboy, Julie and Julia to the Talented Mr Ripley and on the Broadway stage in 84 plays, including the current theatrical smash: The Book of Mormon. It has been said of the incredible Ms. Roth has an incredible relationship to fabric and that she is just as much the storyteller as the writer in movies and theatre. This research which will be published in 2013 was presented for the first time at this Costume Colloquium.

Charlotte Ossicini – Bologna, Italy

Performing Vintage: The Costumes Archive of the Teatro delle Albe

Ossicini discusses the Teatro delle Albe and their successful collaboration with A.N.G.E.L.O. Vintage clothing, ( a 3-story store where thousands of articles of vintage clothing and accessories are used for costumes or for inspiration to create new costumes. The use of vintage wear for the theatre is also addressed.

The final day of lectures at the Auditiorium al Duomo culminated with Daniela Degl’Innocenti, curator of the Museo del Tessuto of Prato who gave an introductory presentation of the museum’s upcoming vintage exhibition, and she also described the Giovanni Masi Vintage Archive. The director of the Museo del Palazzo Davanzati, Brunella Teodori, followed with a presentation of that museum. Before departing the Auditorium for the museum, Alexandra Palmer delivered an eloquent closing statement, summarizing the wide range of topics and themes of Costume Colloquium III. Representatives of the Costume Colloquium Advisory Committee, Carlotta del Bianco and Mary Westerman Bulgarella, announced the title/topic for the 2014 Costume Colloquium as “Color in Fashion / Colore e Moda”.

Reception at the Museo di Palazzo Davanzati

To top off the day, we walked from the Auditorium al Duomo to the beautifully restored Palazzo Davanzati where we enjoyed a private museum visit, sublime views from the rooftop loggia and a sumptuous reception in the courtyard. The Museum of Palazzo Davanzati, also known as the Museum of the Ancient Florentine home, was built by the Davizzi family, wealthy members of a wool guild. The furnishings which date from the Medieval to the Renaissance periods faithfully reflect the style of a lavish Florentine lifestyle. This beautifully restored palazzo is a stunning example of 14th century architecture. The Museum features an impressive collection of lacework and embroidered samplers from the 16th -20th centuries.


Some photos of November 10th


Sunday, November 11th

Behind the scenes tour of the Giovanni Masi Vintage Archive in Prato

Sunday, notwithstanding the abrupt change in climate, we headed to Prato, stopping first at the enormous warehouse of the Giovanni Masi Vintage Archive. Here, participants had a firsthand look at what the “rags” business is really all about while rummaging through the endless bails of used clothing.

The extensive archive of Giovanni Masi’s vintage American clothing was born from the mid-19th century textile tradition of rag sorting and has evolved into a modern day shopping mecca for customers including members of the fashion and entertainment industry. The 32,000 square foot space contains a vast collection of American fashions from the 60’s to the 90’s including theatrical costumes. The Masi Archive has unique designer pieces which combine vintage fabrics with new materials, usually found only in specialty stores.

Visit to the Museo del Tessuto

From here, we travelled into the historic center of Prato to the newly renovated Textile Museum where we could freely visit new installations, view the conservation laboratory and didactic displays, watch a 3-D film of fabric production.
The Prato Textile Museum houses a wonderful collection of textiles dating from the fifth century to the present and includes Renaissance sacred cloths, European costumes and special works created by artists such as Raoul Dufy. The museum is dedicated to textile heritage and international textile manufacturing traditions. The Prato Textile Museum is located in the converted Campolmi textile mill, a fine example of 19th-century industrial architecture and a symbol of the Prato’s textile manufacturing industry.

The excursion to Prato concluded with a lovely farewell reception where we bid each other “arrivederci” until the next Costume Colloquium in 2014!

A photo collection of the Excursion to Prato

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