This past Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the opening gala event for the Resnick Pavilion of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).  The red carpet was full of evening masks to go along with “The Unmasking” theme.  The night was full of energy with a wonderful dinner and entertainment by both Christina Aguilera and the Canadian Tenors.

Designed by world-famous architect Renzo Piano, the Resnick Pavilion is the largest purpose-built, naturally lit, open-plan museum space in the world.  The exhibition line up for this fall is very impressive, including Eye for the Sensual: Selections from the Resnick Collection; Olmec: Colossal Masterworks of Ancient Mexico; and Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700 – 1915.  I was awe-struck by the Fashioning Fashion exhibit.

It is truly amazing the detail that went into the European dress that was on display.  It really is a far cry from today’s daily attire of jeans and a blouse; the formality and chivalry seems to have disappeared.

I learned that the elite women wore aprons as a symbol of domesticity rather than a protective covering.  Here is an example of an English Apron, c. 1750-1785, in an impractical white shade with elaborate and delicate silk and metal-thread embroidery.

Left: Cravat, c. 1795.  This name was used for men’s lace accessories of the eighteenth century; including cuffs, shirt ruffles, and neck ties.  These were very costly hand-made additions to men’s dress of the time.  This delicate cravat would have been attached to a linen band so that it could be easily removed for cleaning or replacement.

Right: The Bust Improver, c. 1900.  This “bra” has drawstrings on the interior pockets allowing it to be stuffed proportionally to achieve the full-breasted look of the popular monobosom and S-shape.

The most remarkable aspect of the dress of this time is the “bling” that was incorporated into the elaborate embroidery and embellishment.  Formal gowns and suits were adorned with jewels and costly metal trimmings, literally worth their weight in silver or gold.  In some cases, for the sake of economy, the ornamentation was  made of premade trimmings that were applied and could be removed to be used on another garment.

*The pavilion is officially open to the public this Saturday, October the 2nd.