“Chic Chicago” Exhibit at the Chicago History Museum

Why has my blog been so silent the past couple of weeks?  Other than being busy beyond belief, we took our annual mini-vacation to Chicago.  It’s a treat for us all and a “thank you” to my son and his girlfriend for helping at the vintage clothing shows throughout the year.  We started the tradition about 3 years ago and had so much fun we can’t stop ourselves now!

The museums in Chicago are superb and there are always new, rotating exhibits to see.  Pierceton is close enough to Chicago that we have some Chicago stations on our cable system so we always pick up new ideas of places to go and things to do.  As if there could ever be any boredom there!  Yes, we love to visit the Windy City.

If you hang out with me very long, you’ll find I’m torn between food and fashion.  (Here’s where I have to maintain a little dignity and mention that I CAN still wear vintage clothing, but a girl’s gotta have some fun!)  We discovered Tuscany on Taylor Street in Little Italy.  You know you’re in for a treat when the basket of fresh Italian bread is delivered to the table with a huge roasted garlic bulb that the waiter mashes on a plate and mixes with olive oil.  Oh my.  And accommodating!  My son prefers white sauces and asked if a particular dish could be served with white sauce and before he knew it, the entire dish had been personalized for him.  Our waiter was a complete doll.  We are going back soon, even if we have to make a special trip.

But I digress …

Other than finding a couple new POPs (Pig Out Places) one of my favorite exhibits was at the Chicago HistoryMuseum.   Here’s where I beg everyone’s pardon for the lack of graphics since, understandably, no photos are allowed of the museum collection.  BUT the Museum of Science & Industry has an  Old Town area where fotofanatics can run amok and I got a nice picture of some shoes!

The exhibition “Chic Chicago” displays an exquisite selection of beautiful designer dresses that include antique Worth gowns from as early as 1861, early Chanel – a personal favorite,  Madame Grès, Poiret, Christian Dior’s early New Look, Halston, Givenchy, Vionnet, Versace, Mugler …. plus so many more.   And ohhhh … I was particularly taken with a 1938 evening gown by Gilbert Adrian influenced by Cubism and intrigued by the 1954 “Butterfly” ballgown by Charles James.  The “Butterfly” gown exhibit included a smaller, touchable version that I really appreciated because the wings and bustle are truly a feat of engineering.

Then there was the Fortuny Delphos gowns.   Sigh ……

They had to call the janitorial staff to follow me around to mop up the drool.  Those museum people are so fussy.

Imagine the thrill discovering that there was yet another special exhibition there at the same time, “Bertha Honoré Palmer” that included more breathtaking gowns worn by Mrs. Palmer, wife of Potter Palmer who built The Palmer House hotel.  This exhibition featured antique gowns and personal items owned by Mrs. Palmer that dated from the 1880s to the early 1900s.  Particularly enjoyable to see were more unusual items such as a winter coat, circa 1885, a court presentation gown from 1892 with a 9 foot train, a 1908 teagown, and circa 1910 red velvet shoes.  Remarkable fabrics … fabrics which are so sadly unavailable today.

Yeah, the janitors mopped up there, too.

So if you’re anywhere NEAR Chicago, be sure to take the opportunity to check these two exhibitions out at the Chicago History Museum.  “Chic Chicago” is only open until July 26, 2009 so HURRY!  The Bertha Honoré Palmer exhibition will run until January 4, 2010.

Both exhibition catalogs are available at the Chicago History Museum.  Janitorial services extra.