Fashion history exhibits in Heritage Hall cover 120 years

November 13, 2017

From right, apparel students Pakou Vang, Emma Smerud and instructor Tommi Smeltzer talk about the History of Fashion exhibit in Heritage Hall.

In one corner was a dress on a mannequin called a Ruffled Brown Combo. The slender skirt draping “shows that this dress dates to the 1880s when women were not very active.” In another corner was an olive dress from the early 1900s with a pearl brooch, lace and fur trim on the neckline and hem. “It reminds you of a lady from a scene in ‘Titanic,’” the display said.

They were two of about 20 dresses in the first of several History of Fashion exhibits at UW-Stout’s Heritage Hall, 415 10th Ave. E.

Apparel design and development students in the History of Fashion class are creating exhibits representing different eras through early December. The exhibits are in room 311 and can been seen Mondays through Thursdays, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Fridays, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

A World War I uniform was part of the first History of Fashion exhibit.An exhibit covering 1880 to 1919 ran from Nov. 6-10. Other displays will be:

  • 1920 to 1959 from Monday, Nov. 13, to Friday, Nov. 17
  • 1960 to 1999 from Monday, Nov. 27, to Friday, Dec. 1.
  • At the end of the semester, students will create a timeline exhibit representing all eras. That display will run weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 11, through Thursday, Dec. 21, and again during the spring semester.

Each exhibit is being created by a small team of students. It’s their major research project in the class, along with a half-hour presentation, said instructor Tommi Smeltzer.

Smeltzer believes the nature of the project is helping students make a more tactile and therefore meaningful connection to fashion history. “I feel apparel students are visual learners. We need to see and touch it,” said Smeltzer, a 2005 graduate of the program.

A dress featuring lace, pearls, beads and fur was in the 1880 to 1919 History of Fashion exhibit.The displays include period information about the various articles of clothing, all of which come from the apparel design program’s collection. Students researched not only the styles of clothing from their eras but what influenced fashion, such as World War I, the women’s rights movement, fashion designers or fashion icons from the time.

For example, women began bicycling in the early 1900s. Skirts with an A-shaped hem, with a wider bottom, came into fashion to allow more movement.

Students involved with the first display included Emma Smerud, a sophomore from La Crosse, and Pakou Vang, a junior from Andover, Minn.

Smerud said the project has helped her see the cycles in fashion design. “In the 1890s there were really big sleeves on dresses. Those could have been from the 1980s.”

The class covers fashion from the 1700s up to 2000.

“Dresses from the Victorian era (late 1800s) were more simplistic than those from the Edwardian era (early 1900s),” Vang said, citing cultural changes that began in the 1890s, known as the Gay ’90s.

One of the dresses in the 1880 to 1919 display was a blue uniform with a white apron used by UW-Stout home economics students in the early 1900s.

While the first display mostly featured women’s dresses, it included a men’s World War I uniform. The exhibit also included music from the era and Christmas lights, which were invented about that time.

As part of the class, students are required to develop an idea for an apparel line inspired by a historical piece of clothing.

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Photos

Top: From right, apparel students Pakou Vang, Emma Smerud and instructor Tommi Smeltzer talk about the History of Fashion exhibit in Heritage Hall.

Middle: A World War I uniform was part of the first History of Fashion exhibit, covering 1880 to 1919, in UW-Stout’s Heritage Hall.

Bottom: A dress featuring lace, pearls, beads and fur was in the 1880 to 1919 History of Fashion exhibit.