Frontline Fashion

The pleasant surprises we’ve run into since opening Cur.io Vintage last August have run the gamut: Locals, baffled in the early days by a shop that didn’t stock multiple sizes, recently clamoring to try on a lovely but very imperfect display frock in the window… A repeat customer, clad head to toe in dark cloth, selecting huge, colorful mid-century silk scarves to use as hijabs… The trio of 80-year-old lunching ladies oohing and ahing over the shop and its smorgasbord of styles they’d worn back in the day, without finding anything as elegant as since…

But the most wonderful surprise of all–as well as the one that for me seals the deal on Cur.io being a good “fit” for Waltham–was having professor Jill Carey of nearby Lasell College invite me to provide items for a pending exhibit called “Frontline Fashion” at the Charles River Museum of Industry (which I posted about in my last entry in this blog). I’d met Jill last autumn and been won over instantly by her warmth, intelligence, and passion for the study of fashion history (her specialty), so naturally the prospect of contributing to an exhibit she and her students were putting together was an exciting one. The icing on the cake, of course, would be getting some behind the scenes glimpses at the curatorial process.

“Frontline Fashion” , which opened at CRMI last Wednesday (and was reviewed by the Boston Globe yesterday and the Waltham Tribune last week),  juxtaposes military uniforms and gear from the Vietnam era through the Iraq Wars with the civilian fashions they influenced and inspired. Even when (thanks to having eavesdropped on Jill and her students planning them!) I’d anticipated certain pairings and groupings, I was totally unprepared for their visual punch when exhibited, especially when accompanied by text panels that provided context for and information about the various pieces. Some examples:

The 60s sweater on the left with patriotic emblems is from Lilly of California.

Bullion on a Navy officer’s suit, and on a Pat Sandler daffodil silk jersey pantsuit with beaded anchor embellishment.

An embroidered Mondi linen jacket, and a Sarah Coventry brooch surrounded by military medals.

Camouflage on a helmet visually echoed by a mid-90s Saks 5th Ave purse; the khaki purse is 60s.

A Mr. John hat next to two military examples; the rabbit peacoat is from Cur.io too.

Can you distinguish the black military accessories from the civilian ones in the grouping below?

And, last but not least, my favorite pairing, which I would never have dreamt of linking (ironically, I suppose, I had never “seen” the camouflage print in the YSL suit’s gold lame!):

“Frontline Fashion” runs through October 9th, 2011; hope you’ll get a chance to check it out!

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