Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Material Culture Minute: Museum Fabrics to Wear

Last year, I mentioned an article from the 1970s that profiled a woman named Jenny Bell Whyte who made modern clothing out of historic coverlets. She established Museum Fabrics to Wear in 1971, and you can learn more about her philosophy and her craft in the article I have since tracked down thanks to an acquaintance. You can download the article from Americana by clicking here. According to her New York Times obituary, Whyte started making clothing from museum-type artifacts upon purchasing textiles the Brooklyn Museum had deaccessioned and sold at auction in 1975.

Many museum pros would blanch at the practice of making clothing from historic artifacts. But you have to admit, the skirts are fun and probably made from better-quality materials than you can find at most shops today.

I'll let you decide whether to keep your coverlets on your bed or your body!

Fashion shot from Jenny Bell Whyte's "Skirts From Coverlets," Americana (September/October 1978)

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