Long before Bean Boots, Mainers were on the forefront of fashion

Extended right before L.L. Bean boots had been modeled by Brooklyn hipsters and Angela Adams’ purses had been draped more than the shoulders of individuals in Los Angeles, Mainers had a heightened sense of style.

In the 1870s, for case in point, vogue-conscious Maine residents understood the cumbersome style of women’s skirt acknowledged as “polonaise” was supplying way to a a great deal slimmer silhouette termed “cuirasse,” from the French word indicating near fitting, like armor. When Hannah P. Adams of Belfast gained her marriage ceremony trousseau about the time of this alter in trends, it bundled a gown in the newer design, alongside with a knee-duration jacket termed a basque.

“Mainers have usually been stylish, and that’s something we see in our outfits collection,” stated Jamie Kingman Rice, deputy director of the Maine Historical Modern society. “Because of ties to British shipping and delivery in the mid-1800s, folks in spots like Eastport and Belfast would have experienced obtain to the most up-to-date fashions and concepts in manner. But we see that men and women in far more rural areas had been fascinated too.”

The idea that Mainers – at minimum some – have long exhibited a aptitude for fashion is the topic of an show at the Maine Historical Culture in Portland known as “Northern Threads: Two Generations of Gown at Maine Historic Society,” with about 50 ensembles from 1780-1889, which includes Hannah P. Adams’ dress, on look at through July 30. The society’s clothing assortment is so massive the exhibition has been damaged into two pieces, with apparel from 1890-1980 on look at Aug. 12 via Dec. 31.

The historic culture is also now hosting two other exhibitions that assist illustrate Mainers’ connections to or obsessions with fashions about the earlier 200 decades. “Cosmopolitan Stylings of Mildred and Madeleine Burrage” focuses on two Maine sisters who had been artists and incorporates drawings from Paris vogue designers in the 1920s and ’30s. It’s on perspective by way of Sept. 24.

The other is “Representing Just about every Unique: John Martin’s 19th Century Fashion Illustrations,” showcasing observations, opinions and drawings about neighborhood vogue from the journal of a Bangor businessman in the latter half of the 1800s, on perspective by way of Aug. 6.

On the web variations of all 3 exhibitions are obtainable to see at the Maine Historic Society’s “current exhibitions” webpage.

“Northern Threads: Two Centuries of Gown at Maine Historical Society” is a two-element exhibit.  Ben McCanna/Staff members Photographer

Rice, lead curator of “Northern Threads,” had started off getting ready the clearly show for the state’s bicentennial in 2020, but the pandemic and other challenges pushed the exhibit again. So now it is open up during the historic society’s bicentennial calendar year, which is suitable, Rice states, due to the fact it highlights element of the society’s assortment of some 3,000 garments.

The “Northern Threads” present marks one of the few periods the historical culture has set so several pieces of garments on check out, Rice claimed, as outfits reveals are really labor intensive. Many parts are mild and fragile and have to be handled and shown very carefully. Moreover, the lighting has to be diligently arranged, so as not to injury the materials. Some pieces can’t be left out in the mild and air way too long.

A 1931 structure from Paris for a evening meal dress from the show “Cosmopolitan Stylings of Mildred and Madeleine Burrage” at Maine Historic Modern society in Portland. Photograph courtesy of Maine Historic Culture/Maine Memory Network No.54252

A great deal of the apparel occur from loved ones collections, donated to the historic society, whilst a lot of came to the historical society from the selection of the previous Westbrook Higher education in Portland (now section of the College of New England), which had a style curriculum. Some items that symbolize the most recent fashions of the working day come from families who lived in little, rural or remote locations, like the little town of Alexander, on Route 9 near Calais, or the Oxford County town of Waterford. In the next component of “Northern Threads,” there will be a wedding ceremony costume festooned with ostrich feathers applied for a marriage ceremony on remote Matinicus Island in the 1890s.

This very first aspect of “Northern Threads” consists of Civil War-period attire and navy uniforms, bustle attire, attire designed with reused cloth at a time when content wasn’t quick to occur by, mourning fashions and dresses with the “gigot” or puffed sleeves well-known in the 183os.

One of the gigot-sleeve dresses illustrates Rice’s place about distant Maine sites obtaining a pipeline to international vogue. It is a two-piece silk and satin weave ensemble, circa 1830, and belonged to the Leavitt relatives of Eastport. It comes with a small cape, known as a pereline, that matches about the dress. The deep purple silk was highly-priced in its day and likely dyed with imported logwood, before the arrival of chemical dye.

In the 1830s, people in Eastport would have been influenced in their fashions and preferences by the constant stream of British ships bringing European goods to the remote Maine seaport, Rice stated. The number of British ships coming to Eastport increased 800 percent in the early 1830s.

Examples of the gigot sleeve in attire from the 1820s-1830s, on display at Maine Historical Culture. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Another theme that can be located in the historical society’s garments collection is the creativeness of Mainers, who from time to time would acquire the most up-to-date fashions but adapt them with their very own hands and tips, Rice reported. The dress belonging to Hannah Adams in Belfast, for instance, has a label from a Boston clothier, W.H. Bigalow, 150 Warren Ave., Boston. But afterwards, the costume was hand embroidered with colourful floral types – hinting at daisies, berries, cat tails and poppies. Also added was a chenille fringe.

There’s an location of the “Northern Threads” show committed to adaptive reuse. One particular incredibly clever illustration is a environmentally friendly, white and rose-coloured silk brocade dress worn by a member of the Jewett family members to a Portland ball in 1825 honoring the Marquis de Lafayette, a Revolutionary War hero. The cloth of the dress dates from the late 1730s or early 1740s, and the dress was at first designed in the 1770s. Then it was altered and re-styled for the 1825 ball, but in a Colonial Revival type.

Some other illustrations of Mainers’ have creative variations of fashions will be viewed in the second part of “Northern Threads” when it opens in August. One particular of people is a women’s aviator’s jacket – believe Amelia Earhart – which have been well-liked in the 1930s. It was designed by a Maine woman who worked at a shoe manufacturing unit and experienced accessibility to leather-based.

Supplementing the eye-catching fashions are some surprising personal stories. Among the several armed service uniforms on show is the costume uniform coat of Oliver Otis Howard of Leeds, when he was a cadet at the U.S. Armed forces Academy at West Point in the 1850s. All through the Civil War, Howard misplaced his right arm at the Fight of 7 Pines in Virginia. Soon after the war, he was commissioner of the U.S. Freedmen’s Bureau and founder of Howard College in Washington, D.C., currently a person of the best-regarded traditionally Black schools in the region.

The other two manner exhibits now at the historic society also spring from particular stories. Sisters Mildred Giddings Burrage (1890-1983) and Madeleine Burrage (1891-1976) arrived from a Maine family that made its fortune in lumber all over the Bangor area and sooner or later settled in Wiscasset. Mildred researched and labored as an artist in France, the place she became interested in haute couture. Madeleine grew to become a jewellery designer, and both traveled thoroughly in Europe and South The usa, normally producing residence about the fashions they observed.

Among Mildred’s collected papers and writings are initial drawings and descriptions of costume layouts from fashion houses in Paris in the 1920s and ’30s. The drawings ended up sent to likely consumers in the times in advance of catalogs and web-sites, stated Tilly Laskey, curator at the Maine Historic Modern society and of the Burrage show.

Thirty of these “line sheets” that includes gown designs are on display as component of the demonstrate. Addresses and other facts display they had been not sent immediately to Mildred, and it is not obvious how she acquired them over the yrs, Laskey mentioned. Many of these drawings are in color and appear with photographs of materials and coloration samples.

Laskey also curated “Representing Just about every Unique: John Martin’s 19th Century Fashion Illustrations.” Martin’s drawings are particularly intriguing for the reason that he was neither an artist nor a university student of manner. He was an accountant and shop keeper from Bangor who was a eager observer. His own father had died when he was younger, and he realized minimal about him. So he had a powerful motivation to help his children master about his occasions and activities. He left at the rear of a 650-webpage journal and quite a few scrapbooks of notes and sketches, done from the 1860s into the 1890s. He drew what he saw and extra his own commentary.

Annie Martin drawn by her father, John Martin, in 1866 from “Representing Each Specific: John Martin’s 19th Century Trend Illustrations” at Maine Historic Modern society. Picture courtesy of Maine Historic Culture/Maine State Museum/Maine Memory Network No. 101171

Just one of his afterwards drawings, “A Modern society Lady of 1889,” shows a lady carrying a bustled gown, colored brightly with orange, pink, violet and environmentally friendly, and keeping a parasol and a small handbag. In his description of the drawing, Martin phone calls the topic “a Modern society woman of the existing day” and notes that whilst the material for the dress is not expensive, it “shows that the wearer is a human being of fine style.” Ten of his doodles and illustrations are on exhibit.

“He can get a tiny snarky about what people were donning and his descriptions are rather amusing,” stated Laskey. “He was drawing these freehand and giving a good deal of details about what he observed.”

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