November 6, 2014

My fashion history fix

There's another fashion exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum here in The Hague!
This time, it's about 19th century fashion. The title is "Romantic fashions", subtitled "Mr. Darcy meets Eline Vere" (Eline Vere is the title character of a novel by Dutch author Louis Couperus).
(I found this title a bit confusing because, in the environment of a museum, I tend to interpret 'romantic' in an art-historical kind of way. Which is not correct in this case. The exhibition is about normal 19th century fashion, which, to us today, looks 'romantic' in the usual 'street' sense of the word)

The exhibition looks at fashions from 1800 to 1914 and the huge amount of development during that time. The focus is on womenswear but there are some outfits for men and for children there as well. 

There are a lot of historical dresses but also some costumes from movies and tv series (Pride and Prejudice, Downton Abbey). And there is a room with clothes by modern designers, inspired by the 19th century (personally, I can take or leave that one. I would have preferred something else, like more corsets).

There are certain things which this museum does really well. 
I loved the way they set the scene in each room with the backdrops. Huge stretches of way decorated with enlarged period images which match the dresses on display both in occasion and in colour. 
And the slowly turning platforms on which the ball gown were displayed. And the clever use they made from the small side rooms to show off small numbers of dresses with a separate theme.

I'm less keen on the persistent habit to put the information about the actual dresses on one little plaque way to the side of each display. It's almost fortunate that this information is mostly very limited (often just year and material) because this way of displaying it forces you to keep walking up and down between the information and the dress you're looking at.
Fashion history purists may also be a bit shocked about the hair treatment: To make the whole display look more modern and approachable for a 21h century audience, they have chosen not to use period hairstyles but the let present-day hairdressers create wigs which are both inspired by the dresses and the period and yet are kind of 'now'. I thought it looked good though...

This exhibition will be there until the end of March 2015, so there's still plenty of time to see it. If you even remotely like fashion history, I heartily recommend it.
Of course, many of you don't live anywhere near The Hague, The Netherlands. You can read about it on the museum's website and I've made a Pinterest board with all the pictures from my visit.


  1. One of my favorite museum. Thank you for the tip. Maybe I'll visit it in November when I'm in Mettingen for my winter break.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your photos! ^_^

  3. Thanks for sharing the pictures Lauriana. When I'm visiting a country with a history I love to go to the museums and see clothing such as this.

  4. Thank you for posting about this -- looks like a wonderful exhibition to visit! I love looking at historical clothing -- a lot of inspiration in the fine details.

  5. Absolutely beautiful! Thanks for sharing...58eveningdress.